While not up there with my favourite animated films, or one of my favourite films of 2016, 'Ballerina' is nonetheless charming with a lot of delights. It will delight the younger crowd, but fellow ballet fans will also be charmed and there should be enough for adults to find value. 'Ballerina' is much more than a film for "little girls" or "just for kids" and does a good job telling a type of story that would be relatable to anybody.
Coming from somebody who overcame disabilities and bullying and wanted to sing professionally and get training and experience, it took a long time but I got there and have not looked back, 'Ballerina' clicked with me.
Of course 'Ballerina' isn't immune to flaws. The story is very familiar and does get predictable, while the characters are very likable but slightly skim-surface archetypes. However, this may seem very nit-picky and can easily be ignored by people and only problems for the toughest of critics.
Aside from these, there were also reservations with some of the soundtrack and one voice cast member. The music is often beautiful and infectious, with some genuine enchantment, but could have done with more classical music choices and less pop. A good deal of the pop tunes are very catchy, but more Tchaikovsky would have suited the film better and been more dynamic and a few others grate. Dane DeHaan doesn't sound right as Victor and doesn't fit, sounding too mature for a character clearly intended to be much younger, either he should have tried to sound younger and more boyish or the character should have been voiced by somebody in his late-teens.
However, the animation is very good, often excellent, especially in the beautifully studied and meticulous background details and the intricate and graceful choreography that synchronises with the music very well and shows animators that have clearly done their homework. As said, the soundtrack does mostly work, while the script makes a real attempt to appeal to both children and adults (being a family film) and, with a nice mix of humour, pathos and life values and never being over-complicated or childish, it does succeed.
The story, even with the familiarity and predictability, goes at a neat pace and as well as having a lot of charm and heart the messaging never comes over as preachy and very much valuable. It is also easy to see why anybody would find it inspiring and easy to relate to, as a young adult both were very easy for me. Even though archetypal, the characters are still likable, the title character has her flaws but it is easy to quickly warm to her. The voice acting, DeHaan aside, is strong, with Elle Fanning and Carly Rae Jensen bringing emotion and spirit to their characters and Maddie Ziegler stealing the show.
In summary, a familiar film but a very charming one and one to be seen without prejudice. 7/10 Bethany Cox