Reviews: The Last Unicorn

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Great ideas, iffy execution
Let me just start by saying: I didn't watch this movie as a kid and I never read the book. I only heard about a year or so ago, and being the animation junkie that I am I decided to check it out.

The concepts behind the movie, and its storyline, are both great. The working in of unicorn mythology (men not being able to recognize unicorns, unicorns coming to the aid of young virgin girls, etc.) is done very well, and it puts an interesting twist on the latter especially when they encounter Molly Grue, a middle-aged woman who is upset that she did not receive a unicorn's blessing in her youth ("Why do you come to me now, when I am this?"). Also, the unicorn being turned into a human was a nice touch, especially the way she reacts the way you'd think a normally immortal being would react to being placed in a mortal body.

However, the storyline and concepts just aren't delivered well. The first major problem is the voice acting - there just isn't a lot of effort put into the lines by any of the characters, barring King Haggard and Molly on occasion. Jeff Bridges as Lir gives a particularly emotionless performance, and unfortunately so does Mia Farrow as our main heroine, the unicorn. And while Christopher Lee gives a pretty good performance as Haggard, Haggard himself just isn't a very compelling villain. Tammy Grimes' portrayal of Molly was the only one I could consistently enjoy.

The second big problem is the animation. The art is great; the character designs (especially the unicorn) and backgrounds are gorgeous. But the Nostalgia Critic made a good point about the animation of the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials: their "stop-motion" put much more emphasis on the "stop" than the "motion." Unicorn is by the same people and suffers from much the same problem; the animation just has very poor flow, and half the time it feels like they just skipped a few frames out of laziness. In addition, the facial expressions have a bad case of Dull Surprise. I'm willing to accept technical limitations to a point, but The Secret of NIMH came out the same year, and if you haven't seen that, go ahead and watch it to see what 1982 animation could really achieve.

Overall grade: 7.4/10. It was okay for what it was, but it could have been much, much more.
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