As a lifelong fan of animation and as someone who has seen Christopher Plummer and Genevieve Bujold give great performances, The Legend of Sarila was always going to be something I was going to see. Plus the idea was interesting and quite unique. Unfortunately, what potential The Legend of Sarila had was marred by generally poor execution.
There are redeeming qualities here. The music score is appropriately rousing and dynamic, giving as much heart and energy as possible in a film that was on the most part in desperate need of more elsewhere. And there are two good voice acting performances. Christopher Plummer is no stranger to voicing villains, having been the best thing about Rock a Doodle and being just as fun in the Babes in Toyland animation, and he brings a menacing and larger than life personality to Croolick, by far the most involved actor in the voice cast. Genevieve Bujold is touching and dignified as Saya, qualities she brought to her definitive Anne Boleyn in Anne of a Thousand Days.
Sadly, for these three good things, The Legend of Sarila fails quite badly everywhere else. The animation is particularly poor, and at worst inept. The colours are very drab, the backgrounds were in real want of more detail(sometimes it was there, but a lot of them were sparse), the landscapes never felt authentic or made one feel transported to the world where the film takes place in, characters move awkwardly, dynamic physical interaction is next to non-existent and there is little to no attempt with interaction with the environment(lack of peril in dire straits, characters looking as if they'd not been wet despite supposing to). The lack of care in the animation would have been forgivable if the script and story had been any good, unfortunately while not quite as bad failures they don't work either.
Narratively, as well as being pedestrian in places, The Legend of Sarila felt very muddled and like there wasn't enough story to sustain the running time. It's thinly plotted stuff, and is stretched with plot points that were potentially interesting and could have given the characters depth but with little done with them, they're introduced but not resolved or properly explored. Especially true to this was with Markussi and his powers. The lack of originality could have been forgiven if the story was executed well otherwise, which was not the case. The script lacks flow and not only does it sound like it's lacking in sense but it's awkwardly delivered too on the most part. It also feels much too safe, depth, humour and emotion are seldom there and any chances with character development were a missed opportunity. There are attempts, sure, but it feels half-hearted and clumsy, like at the end with Croolick but even that felt incredibly rushed.
Regarding the characters, they are one-dimensional and little more than fantasy clichés, even when having an idea that was unique for animation. And apart from Plummer and Bujold, the voice acting is very one-note.
In conclusion, has its redeeming values, but as a whole The Legend of Sarila just fails to enchant. 3/10 Bethany Cox
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