Murray Blue voices Thunder, an abandoned kitten who seeks shelter at the home of veteran magician Lawrence (Doug Stone), much to the displeasure of his other pets Maggie the Mouse (Shanelle Gray) and Jack the Rabbit (George Babbit), who are jealous of the affection shown towards him. Finally feeling settled and at home in this fantastical, outlandish new environment, living amongst a host of magical creations, it could be a short-lived stay, as Lawrence’s estate agent nephew Daniel (Grant George) is determined to sell the house and ship his elderly relative off to a retirement home.
Though lacking somewhat in pathos, where The House of Magic does excel, is within the visual experience, as the consistent use of 3D gimmicks will undoubtedly entertain the younger members of the audience. With various moments where is seems objects are flying towards your face, there is also the first person perspective employed throughout, as we embody our protagonist. Not that in this instance it’s used in such a way to help form an emotional bond between the character and viewer, but instead it’s used when sliding down bannisters and the like, appearing more like a roller-coaster simulator of sorts. It’s one of a variety of thrills too, as a film that plays lightly on the tropes of the horror genre, but in an accessible manner, with the occasional jump and scare.
It’s impossible to deny the enjoyment that derives from the adventurous nature of this piece, though any truly accomplished animation manages to combine that with a more poignant, heartfelt side – and this lacks heavily in the latter. It’s generally a somewhat detached piece, which is quite a feat given our protagonists are that of an abandoned, cute kitten, and an elderly man being pushed out of his home and vocation. Yet this somehow fails to provokes an emotional response. In the meantime, while the filmmakers may deviate away from preaching good morals to kids, what they do manage to achieve, is the preaching of good music to a young audience – with a bit of The Cure and Madness making up the film’s soundtrack.
Given the nature to the narrative, there are shades of Up, while the way in which the characters come to life behind closed doors, in this big, mystical house, bears similarities to that of Toy Story. Sadly, however, there aren’t really any further comparisons to be made to the latter than spring to mind – though Lawrence the magician does bear a resemblance to old Geri, the character who fixes Woody’s arm in Toy Story 2. But that’s as far as I’ll go.