A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bella Sara: Emma's Wings is the first full-length film in the Bella Sara product line. Made to appeal to girls with the intent of encouraging girl power, a peace-loving nature, and compassion, the brand includes magical horse and character trading cards, books, games, a website, etc. Created in Denmark, (the franchise arrived in the U.S. in 2007) Bella Sara's goal is to provide girls with the pleasures found in products generally favored by boys, like Pokemon. The movie attempts to provide a "back story" (genesis) for the Bella Sara legends and stays with the beautiful horses, lovable heroines, and magic. It also provides an action-heavy adventure with some suspense and violence, including numerous skirmishes with snarling wolves, and an arch female villain who threatens everyone.
What's the story?
In BELLA SARA: EMMA'S WINGS, Emma, a young teen (voiced by Mackenzie Porter) misses Sigga, her deceased mom, and longs to know what words Sigga left behind for her in a missing journal. Joined by her cousin Colm and his trusted steed, Soot, and with the aid of a magic necklace, Emma and her beloved horse, Wings, set out on an adventure to the birthplace of her mother, the magical North-of-the-North, a legendary world from which all horses come. Sailing through the skies, the team finds its way to the mysterious, enchanted land and soon discovers that it's in the hands of a dangerous villain. Iveena, and the pack of vicious wolves that obeys and protects her, is trying to steal the magic from the horses and give it to her wolves instead. Forced to face Iveena's powers and her hatred for Sigga, Emma must save the horses and learn the truth about both her mother and herself.
Is it any good?
It's obvious that the producers had a strong desire to create an action-packed back story in their first full-length movie. The peace-loving, compassionate nature of the Bella Sara trading card characters and the positive messages for girls which the franchise seeks to promote seem to take a back seat to the producers' mission. The conflict is traditional: a power-hungry villain uses magic and scary creatures to take over the world, in this case the beautiful land of North-of-the-North and its magical horse inhabitants. There are so many elements, relationships, and legends introduced (a magical necklace, a journal -- here called "a ballad," valkyries, dryads, the Palace of Rolandsgaard, and more) that the story is sometimes hard to follow. Still, it's an earnest effort to provide girl-centric entertainment. And, it has a uniquely rough but engaging style of animation that reflects the art that has already been established. It wouldn't be at all surprising if boys like it, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how all of the Bella Sara products tie-in to one another. Does watching the movie encourage you to buy the trading cards or games? How do your parents feel about that?
Some of characters in the Bella Sara franchise are "mythic." Look up "mythic," "Valkyrie," "Dryad," and "Meerwolf" (or "Merewolf"). How closely do the Bella Sara characters match the legendary ones?
Bella Sara is described as "girl-friendly." What is there about Bella Sara that might appeal to boys, too? Is it always a good idea to describe something as "for boys" or "for girls?" If your answer is no, why not?
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