If you know about the company Filmation, they did make some iconic television cartoons like Fat Albert and He Man, but a majority of their content was generic Saturday morning trite that gave animation a bad name in the 1970s due to their cheap animation and lackluster stories that only kids would find amusing. Then when they were in need to save themselves in the 1980s, they made an unofficial sequel to Disney's Pinocchio, Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night. However, Disney found out about this and sued the studio, but because they had started production on an unofficial sequel to Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, they reworked and redesigned that movie to be nothing like the Disney film. Upon it's release in 1993, three years after a brief release in France 1990, it was a commercial flop that caused the company to close its doors. After watching the movie itself, while I don't despise it, it definitely left much to be desired.
The biggest problem with Happily Ever After is how dull and underdeveloped it is. The general story line is that Snow White must save the prince who was kidnapped by the wicked queen's brother Lord Maliss (don't ask), and along with the Seven Dwarfs' cousins the Dwarfelles (I think you can guess why there are no dwarfs), she sets off on a quest to save him from certain doom. Sounds exciting enough, yet the movie fails to give a reason as to why the audience should even care about these characters, let alone Snow White, leaving the story bland and straight forward.
The characters themselves are not much better. Snow White is even blander than she was in the original Disney film, the only noteworthy thing about the prince is that he looks like a copy of He Man, and the Dwarfelles....well thanks to Mother Nature, they do possess magical powers such as control of the weather, control of the earth, control of fire, etc, but they have no personality outside of their powers and they contribute nothing to the plot aside from Sunburst and the whiny Thunderella. Also, there's a mysterious hooded character that follows Snow White around. Without giving much away, he ends up turning into someone significant in the end that makes the viewer wonder why he was changed in the first place.
Another issue with this movie is that there is so much filler, mostly with the comic reliefs Scowl and Batso who offer nothing to the plot alongside being unfunny. This makes the movie feel significantly longer than it should, and it also takes away what could have been time to actually explore the characters and the world of the movie, which leads into another problem with the movie, the confusing fantasy elements. I wouldn't mind these elements if this movie was it's own interpretation of the original Snow White fairy tale, but since it's clearly meant to cash in on Disney's Snow White, it leaves these elements feeling out of place, as well as unexplained. Why is the villain a shape shifting dragon? What is the mythos behind the Dwarfelles magical elements? Why are there wolves, Mother Nature and other mystic creatures? I don't know, and the movie sure doesn't bother to ask. It just tosses whatever at the wall to see if it sticks, and unsurprisingly, none of it does because it doesn't fit within this film.
Oh, and there are a few songs in this movie.....that's all I'm gonna say about them because I don't even remember most of them they flew by that fast. All I'm gonna say is that they only appear in the first half and that's it, so I don't know why they even bothered putting songs in the film to begin with.
Now you're probably wondering, is there anything I like about this movie? Well the animation is decent enough, and while not solid enough for theatrical consumption due to inconsistent character animation, the character designs do look charming and colorful enough, and even a lot of the effects look visually impressive. Also, some of the world building does look kind of cool and grim when it wants to be as some of the places Snow White and the Dwarfelles enter have potential to be their own fun places to explore. Also, Malcolm McDowell is simply delightful as Maliss as he hams up the performance making him more entertaining than he had any right to be. Also, as forgettable as the songs in this movie are, the end credits song Love is the Reason is an entertaining albeit dated pop song sung flawlessly well by Irene Cara. That, and the general voice acting is decent enough, as the voice actors do well enough jobs by giving their characters distinct voices.
Otherwise, despite some decent animated tricks and a fun villain, I was rather unimpressed with Happily Ever After due to its boring story, bland characters, plot holes, unresolved and furthermore unnecessary fantasy elements and soulless feel. And that's the worst thing that can be said about this film, it's soulless. Even though Disney's Snow White ain't perfect, it certainly had a lot of heart put into it, thus elevating its upbeat characters and emotional appeal that made it timeless. Happily Ever After has nothing to stand on its own, and even with the fantasy elements and Malcolm McDowell, this was just a waste of time that's better off dead like the wicked queen.
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