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It is very easy to meet the 'Barbie' films with a lot of dislike and scorn and they are all very lowly rated here (despite some favourable reviews). It is understandable to take issue with the dialogue (a fair few are ropy in this regard), the predictability of the stories, the odd annoying character, the animation in a few (not all are well animated) and whether there is enough for adults to keep interest.
Despite not being the main target audience, to me they are mostly better than given credit for, easy to take them for what they are and don't deserve to be dismissed as baby-ish and for little girls only (a very narrow minded generalisation). Are they animation masterpieces? No. Are they among the best films ever made? Again no. Are they worth watching if taken for what they are? Absolutely for most of them. Most of them look good if not having the polish of studios specialising in computer animation (Pixar for one), often great music, good lessons and messages, a good deal of charm, have their heart in the right place and have entertaining characters well voiced (some had actors of considerable calibre like Tim Curry, Anjelica Huston, Martin Short and Kelsey Grammar, all of them terrific in their respective outings Curry especially) and a likable title character that particularly young girls can relate to.
Was a bit nervous about 'Barbie in Rock 'N' Royals' at first before watching. Modern Barbie has rarely done much for me, and the more modern 'Barbie' films are among the series' worst. Was worried as to whether it was going to be one of those musically loud and intrusive films with few memorable songs and none of particularly good quality and whether it was going to do anything new with a story line that was anything but new.
'Barbie in Rock 'N' Royals' turned out to be somewhat of a pleasant surprise. It is a long way from flawless or great, it's not one of the best 'Barbie' films and there is still a preference for the original/traditional 'Barbie' films and the original/traditional Barbie herself. For a modern day 'Barbie' film however, it was pretty good and one of the better-faring ones, being one of the few times where the more modern atmosphere didn't feel as clumsy or as jarring and was instead interwoven neatly.
There are problems here sure. The dialogue continues to be ropy, nothing as toe-curling as 'Princess Power' but it does sound rather cheesy, a bit sugary and bland and lack of natural flow can be a problem. The story certainly has more energy than most modern day 'Barbie' films, is more eventful and like more heart went into it this time round, that isn't enough to stop it from feeling like a tired Hodge Podge of old recycled ideas tried, tested and worn thin.
Like can be said for the dialogue, nobody sees a 'Barbie' film for character depth. 'Rock 'N' Royals' is the same, the characters do have vibrant engaging personalities with clear motives and Barbie herself as Courtney is likable, resourceful and good role model but they are very black and white in a neat way.
However, the animation is quite nice. Do much prefer the older original/traditional Barbie designs to here but the more modern look is more appealing here than most modern 'Barbie' films and isn't as much of an issue. This time the colours are not overly excessive in their brightness either. There are some beautiful bright colours, handsome and imaginative backgrounds and the character designs and movements have natural freedom rather than being stiff. It's not exactly imaginative and it's not as polished as Pixar, but when you have computer animation that makes you physically ill like the entire output of Video Brinquedo and Spark Plug Entertainment and the sequels to 'The Swan Princess' (the CGI ones) and 'Alpha and Omega' it's very clear which is better than them and this.
Was expecting a generic and overly loud compilation of rock songs. Instead the songs are very upbeat and infectious, and actually capture the excitement and danger of the style. There is nothing here that makes you want to have a toilet break or wash dishes. The film choreographs these numbers with a lot of vibrant energy and ease.
Story-wise 'Rock 'N' Royals' is not perfect, but it is more eventful than most modern 'Barbie' films and feels more lively. It is cute and charming, with its heart clearly in the right place, and doesn't feel saccharine or overly-simplistic, with enough freshness to stop it from being too heavy in repetition. The positive messaging once again was appreciated, messages that have been done to death before and since in 'Barbie' and in general but delivered in a way that's never heavy-handed or trivialised. Another appreciation point was having some conflict but not having it in the form of a standard villain.
Voice acting is pretty good and done with a lot of spirit. Cannot imagine Barbie without Kelly Sheridan (the 'Barbie' films without her did suffer from her absence on top of even bigger problems) and she continues to grow. Michael Dobson is always worthwhile and he does a good job here too.
Overall, not great and there are much better 'Barbie' films but pretty good and one of the better modern ones. Was not expecting to enjoy it but ended up doing so. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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