On April 27, the fantasy film “Magic Doors” opened in cinemas, the plot of which is based on the work of the same name by the British writer Tom Gault. In the review below, we analyze how successful this adaptation turned out to be.
“Magic door” / The Portable Door
Comedy fantasy genre
Directed by Jeffrey Walker
Starring Patrick Gibson, Sophie Wilde, Sam Neill, Christoph Waltz, Miranda Otto, Jessica de Gau
Release year 2023
Young Londoner Paul Carpenter planned to start a career as a barista, but found himself at an interview at JW Wells & Co. After a series of strange questions from an equally strange board of directors, the boy receives an invitation to a paid internship. Now at least there will be something to pay for housing rent.
From the very first day of work, Paul was in trouble. His boss Dennis Tanner, to put it mildly, did not treat the rookie very respectfully. The task of finding the birthplace of bauxite (I would still like to know what it is) was also surprising. Even the attractive secretary Rosie did not miss an opportunity to make fun of the new employee.
Besides, Carpenter had no way of finding out exactly what JW Wells & Co. was doing. His colleague Sophie seems to be already making the first professional successes, and he is still futilely messing around with those bauxites. But the head of the company, Humphrey Wells himself, entrusts the forge with an important mission – to find a portable door in the world, with the help of which you can visit any point on the planet. Such a trivial task!
Tom Gault is a successful British writer focusing on the fantasy genre. His 2003 novel The Magic Door was the first in a series of books by JW Wells & Co, which told about bright magic in the conditions of gray office life. Such fantastic stationery and where to find it.
The plot basis of the screen adaptation quite closely follows the original book source, but many nuances in the film are significantly different.
For example, the main character, the namesake of the iconic horror director, does not look like a catastrophically miserable loser here, as in the book. And the object of his adoration, intern Sophie, no longer turns out to be such an unpleasant person as Gault presented her. At the same time, some storylines were deliberately simplified, and some of the events were changed or even deleted, and this really worked to the advantage.
“Magic doors” turned out to be an extremely cute and pleasant little thing, which is not surprising.
The tape is very far from the epic adventures inherent in high-budget Hollywood examples of the genre. The plot is not too inventive, the pale comedy and fantasy component are leveled by the relaxed atmosphere of the lamp and the charm of the characters.
Especially in this context, eccentric heroes performed by veterans Christoph Waltz and Sam Neill stand out. And also Jessica de Gau’s wayward secretary, who radiates not only undisguised contempt for those around her, but also an unhealthy erotic attraction to a stapler.
The local goblins got an old-school, good-for-nothing look, achieved thanks to good old makeup. These mythical creatures look like a cross between the vampires from Rodriguez’s Dusk Till Dawn and Kermit the Frog. The latter, by the way, was once created by Jim Henson, whose company was currently working on “Magic Doors”.
The creators’ mockery of the corporate intrigues of companies and their maddened office bureaucracy also seems appropriate. Perhaps, nowhere has the ordinary photocopier been so despised as in Holt’s book. And the endless piles of papers in the frame (and even the Apple Macintosh Classic in the warehouse, the IT community in the case) look very eloquent.
“Magic Door” is a light and pleasant urban fantasy without surprises, which does not even try to compete with expensive blockbusters.
That is, not particularly high ambition is obvious. You can say that they are trying to win over the audience with little blood, but even in this approach there is charm when you have excellent actors at your disposal. The tape will definitely find its audience, it will even entertain someone, and this may be quite enough. Especially if your work involves the endless use of a damn stapler or a green marker.
Pros: a nice light story with cool actors in secondary roles, a cozy atmosphere, the plot is suitable for both children and adults, adequate transfer of a literary work to the plane of cinema, good scenery and quality work on the make-up of goblins Cons: a weak fantasy and comedy component, lack of unpredictable twists and banality of the plot, relatively low ambition, which decisively rejects all chances of the project to become a new genre discovery and instead offers only standard entertainment for one time. Conclusion:
Movies like “Magic Doors” were not destined to enter eternity and become classics of the genre. All in all, it’s not a bad option if you’re planning a trip to the movies for relaxation rather than the shocks that this week’s other release, Ari Astaire’s All The Fears, is sure to offer.