Review

  • The ventriloquist dummy is a popular horror prop; ever since Dead of Night in 1945, the ventriloquist dummy has popped up in a number of films; and Magic is one of the most classy and high quality. However, it's not necessarily one of the best; as while the acting is good and Richard Attenborough manages to create just the right tone and atmosphere for the film; something about it severely lacking. The tagline bills it as a 'love story', and this would appear to sum up Magic's problems - it doesn't really know what it wants to be! The relationship between the ventriloquist and his dummy is build up as antagonistic until the very end, and by then it feels out place. The plot focuses on Corky; a magician who isn't all that good. But when he teams up with a wooden dummy named Fats; the crowd begins to love him. However, the fame starts to go to him and he soon finds that he can't turn the dummy 'off'. He goes and finds his high school sweetheart, and the two start to get on well; but it's not long before his fame comes looking for him, and the dummy shows its murderous side.

    Anthony Hopkins is clearly one of the acting greats; and while this film came earlier than his more memorable performances in movies such as The Silence of the Lambs and The Elephant Man, it's still obvious that Hopkins is a master of his trade. The film comes across as a high quality piece, but somehow this doesn't apply to the plotting, as there are some very questionable character actions and events, and while this may be OK in another film; the fact that this one obviously wants to rise above the low quality horror films means that it's hard to ignore. Magic isn't particularly nasty; there are a couple of death scenes, but the blood is kept to a minimum, and again this seems like Attenborough was trying not to make the film seem cheap and tacky. Most of the horror comes from the dummy; Anthony Hopkins does Fats' voice and it's not far from being the most piercing and haunting horror vocal of all time, which is the film's main credit. Overall, Magic certainly isn't a bad film; it's worth watching for sure, but unfortunately it's not as great as it could have been.