Ballerina is a fun but formulaic French-backed production that may not quite capture Disney magic, but sure captures some impressively choreographed ballet dancing.Dreaming of being a ballet starlet, Felicie Milliner escapes her oppressive orphanage and cleverly insinuates herself into an aspiring ballet group by posing as one of the other stars, learning her craft in a series of short montages as she competes to perform at the Grand Opera House. As her best friend Victor stirs up trouble in his own quest to become a master inventor - taking a job at Gustave Eiffel's engineering studio no less - Felicie tackles adversity and adversaries to make her own dream come true.Featuring the voice talents of Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon) as the protagonist, Felicie, singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen as her mystery mentor Odette, a simple cleaner with secret skills, and Sia muse, Maddie Ziegler as her rich kid rival, Camille, Ballerina may be straightforward in its plotting and execution (and even its slightly dated archetypes - the girl's dream to be a ballerina, whilst the boy gets to be an inventor), but it's got all the right ingredients to thoroughly impress on the song and dance front.
Indeed, despite some impressive CG animation throughout, rendering the Parisian period locales (complete with half-completed Eiffel Tower) with loving attention to detail, it's the dance moves that truly stand out, as some expertly choreographed ballet setpieces distinguish the production from its peers.
With real-life ballet masters on hand to lend their skills behind the scenes, the ballet-work is stunning, and captivating for audiences young and old, although obviously the familiar path of oppressed orphan fighting the odds to make her dreams come true will likely spark more of an interest in the younger generations less familiar - or at least more forgiving - towards this tried-and-tested routine.
The ballet-work is stunning, and captivating for audiences young and old
Ultimately there's little to detour the plot from precisely what you would expect from this kind of production, and the Disney magic is lacking somewhat - where Pixar would have provided a deeper resonance, and Disney-proper a more heartfelt journey, and both a better line of humour, Ballerina only manages an impression of any of those elements, instead only really standing out on the dance front (notwithstanding some interesting modern song tracks - including an admittedly infectious, suitably inspiring number from Ziegler's own mentor, Sia - incongruously spliced into the otherwise period affair). It will certainly captivate its younger target audience, but nevertheless stands in the shadow of superior fare like last month's Moana.
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