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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bayala: A Magical Adventure (also known as The Fairy Princess and the Unicorn) is an animated adventure with likable characters, positive messages, and mild cartoon peril. Themes include acceptance, solidarity, and working together despite your differences. Strong female characters display kindness, bravery, and determination. Very young kids might be frightened by wicked Shadow Queen Ophira's (voiced by Liza Ortiz) hostility and aggressive use of magic. But this is short-lived and eclipsed by the overriding message that good triumphs over evil. There is some lazy gender stereotyping with a pink mommy dragon and a blue daddy dragon.
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What's the story?
BAYALA: A MAGICAL ADVENTURE is set in the enchanted land of Bayala, where five elf tribes lived in harmony with dragons. That was until the wicked Shadow Queen Ophira (voiced by Liza Ortiz) stole all the dragon's eggs to rob the land of its magic -- and took Sun Princess Surah (Madison Mullahey) with her. Many years later Surah escapes and returns to the Sun Kingdom to be reunited with her family. But her friend Nuray (Rebecca Becker) is captured and held prisoner in the Shadow Kingdom. Surah tells of Ophira's desire to rule all the elf kingdoms and that it's down to her that "wilt" has set in across the lands, killing magical plants that would otherwise be saved by dragons' breath. When a young Sun Elf, Marween (Olivia Manning) finds a dragon egg, the elf tribes must work together to find the dragon parents, rescue Nuray and defeat Ophira, bringing peace and magic back to Bayala.
Is it any good?
The ingredients are all here for a decent, uplifting, family-friendly adventure story. But somehow Bayala: A Magical Adventure (also known as The Fairy Princess and the Unicorn) doesn't quite hit the mark. The bright, colorful animation will appeal to younger kids, but the story feels overly complex, particularly for this target audience. The cute animal sidekicks tick the right boxes and the messages around looking after nature and respect for all creatures are appealing. But while many of the characters are good role models -- brave, loyal, determined -- they lack depth, so it's hard to really warm to them.
Surah struggles with her identity and how to control her magic -- not unlike a certain Queen Elsa of Arendelle. But while Frozen manages to tell a captivating story while developing compelling characters, Bayala: A Magical Adventure struggles to inspire. That said, a young audience will enjoy the vibrant scenery, uplifting music, and positive vibes as this band of good-hearted elves embark on their quest to save a magical land. As fairytale adventures go, it's entertaining enough.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the issue of identity in Bayala: A Magical Adventure. Surah is a Sun Elf raised in the Shadow Kingdom, with Shadow Elf wings. How do the other characters behave toward her? How does this make her feel? How might this reflect real life?
Talk about the value of putting aside your differences to work as a team, like the elf tribes do in this movie. Can you think of a time when this has happened to you in real life? How can I use media to teach my kid teamwork?
- On DVD or streaming: July 10, 2020
- Cast: Madison Mullahey, Jessica Webb, Olivia Manning
- Directors: Aïna Jarvine, Federico Milella
- Studio: Ulysses Filmproduktion
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Fairy Tales
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: July 7, 2020
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