Today I’ll be reviewing the 2013 film, Barbie Fairytopia: Mariposa and the Fairy Princess. This is the final film in the “Fairytopia” series. So far on the blog I have reviewed:
- Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia (2006)
- Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007)
- Barbie Fairytopia: Mariposa and her Butterfly Fairy Friends (2008) (simply called ‘Barbie: Mariposa’ in Europe)
Here’s the description for this film:
“Mariposa and her furry friend Zee returns in Barbie: Mariposa & the Fairy Princess. In this magical adventure, Mariposa becomes the royal Ambassador of Flutterfield and is sent to bring peace between her fairy land and their rivals, the Crystal Fairies of Shimmervale.
While Mariposa doesn’t make a great first impression on their King, she becomes fast friends with his shy daughter, Princess Catania. However, a misunderstanding causes Mariposa to be banished from the fairy land. As Mariposa and Zee return to Flutterfield, they encounter a dark fairy on her way to destroy Shimmervale. Mariposa rushes back and helps Princess Catania save her fairy land and together, the two girls prove that the best way to make a friend, is to be a friend.”
I was honestly quite shocked when this film was announced -it had been five years since the last Fairytopia film, and there are rarely sequels for any Barbie movies (only the Fairytopia series and Barbie in a Mermaid Tale, which is rather unfortunate because I think some films deserve sequels!)
Unfortunately, my excitement was short-lived when the trailer was released -I was horrified that the animation had changed! And Mariposa’s voice actress had changed! And she looked completely different! The reason I was so excited for this sequel was because I really missed the old animation, and I really wanted to revisit the land of Fairytopia.
Here’s the old Mariposa, voiced by Chiara Zanni. Chiara has been working for Mattel for ages, and like many other voice actresses in the Barbie world (Kathleen Barr springs to mind), she’s also done some voice acting for My Little Pony.
You may also remember her as:
- Dahlia in Fairytopia
- Nori in Mermaidia (one of my favourite characters!)
- Raquelle in The Barbie Diaries (another one of my favourites!)
- Edeline in The 12 Dancing Princesses
- Shani in Polly Pocket: Polly World
- Shyne in A Fashion Fairytale
- Holly Elf in A Perfect Christmas
- Erika Juno in Rock ‘n Royals
Basically, she’s done a lot of stuff! I think it’s really cool how she’s able to sound so different. When some characters speak, I can instantly tell who is the actor but I can’t with Chiara Zanni.
Annnddd here’s the new Mariposa. Now, don’t get me wrong -I absolutely love Kelly Sheridan in Barbie films (she usually voices the character of Barbie, right up until 2015). But it’s just not what I was expecting. I don’t really like the animation of Mariposa’s character at all.
What I find strange is that Chiara voiced Erika Juno in 2015, so it wasn’t as though she said ‘I’m not doing any more Barbie movies!’ Was she even asked? I wish I knew if there was an actual reason behind this change.
Oh! Another reason this film disappointed me was because Elina was not seen or mentioned at all! In the previous Mariposa film, Elina was reading Mariposa’s story out to Bibble. It was a great way to connect the main Fairytopia series with this spin-off part. Without Elina, I feel like it is difficult for new fans to understand that this is still part of the Fairytopia world (I know it is mentioned in the film, but you really have to pay attention to every line).
Okay, let’s move onto the characters now! ~
Firstly, Carlos! The dashing young prince returns from the previous film. He looks, acts and sounds similar to how he was before, which is fantastic. The film cuts to scenes back over at Flutterfield which show him and Mariposa’s best friend, Willa working at the Royal Library (taking over from Mariposa’s regular duties). These scenes were really interesting and it was great to see more of Carlos and Willa interacting.
Next, Catania! I really liked how her character developed over time and I loved how there was an actual flashback when she was telling Mariposa about what happened many years ago. (There isn’t many flashbacks in Barbie films -I can’t think of any others off the top of my head.) Unlike Mariposa, I thought her character was really pretty and I loved the detail in her hair and outfits.
King Regellius was also a really interesting character. I felt like he was originally ‘the villain’ at the beginning of the film since he was quite rude to Mariposa, but I feel that his rudeness added some depth to the film.
Another reoccurring character was Queen Marabella. She didn’t contribute a whole lot to the film, but it was nice to see her and Gastrous again. I thought Queen Marabella’s character design was again very pretty.
Let’s talk about the actual story now.
Firstly, one thing I really liked is how Mariposa’s personality was not completely changed. After her adventure with Rayna and Rayla, Mariposa was certainly more confident than she was in the first film, but she still had an overall ‘shy’ vibe. I liked this because it’s quite different from other Barbie protagonists, who are usually like “let’s do this! come on! let’s go!”
Secondly, I really enjoyed the dance sequence at the Crystal Ball. This was choreographed by Teresa Espinosa, who worked on dance scenes in The Princess and the Popstar, The Secret Door and Rock ‘n Royals. All these films have really amazing dances in them (my favourites are the ones from The Princess and the Popstar and Rock n Royals), and they all have the same choreographer!
I also really liked the two songs in the film, which are Be a Friend and Only a Breath Away. I feel like they weren’t corny at all (some Barbie songs can be really terrible, such as At The Ball), and they really worked with the rest of the film. They were placed really well in the film and the lyrics worked perfectly with what was happening at the time.
I also really liked the storyline in this film, I thought it was completely different to other films. I really liked the misunderstanding between the two kingdoms, and I liked how Catania’s character developed throughout the film.
However, I do have a problem with Gwyllion. I feel like her part of the story was a bit …half-heartedly put together. I guess it makes sense if you are watching the film without paying much attention, but if you actually think about it, it doesn’t really make sense.
For example -why did Gwyllion want a crystallite in the first place? Did she want to harness the power to strengthen her dark magic? Did she just want to display it in her house? WHY DID SHE WANT IT? Secondly, at the end of the film, Catania gives her, the villian, a single crystallite and Gwyllion is so overcome with gratitude that she suddenly transforms into a “good fairy” and flies away? That just seems like a convenient shortcut for the directors to end the film by magically solving everything with the “magical power of friendship.”
Additionally, King Regellius tells his daughter Catania that the reason he couldn’t give Gwyllion a crystallite in the first place is because then they wouldn’t have enough for their own people, and their own people should come first. Which is fair enough! I think that’s totally justifiable!
Then, at the end of the film, Catania says that she is ‘righting a wrong’ by giving Gwyllion a crystallite, and they should have given it to her in the first place. Personally, I feel like that is just nonsense -if they give one crystallite to a non-Shimmerville resident, then everyone will come wanting one! And then they really won’t have enough for themselves, so it’s much better to just enforce a strict blanket rule for everyone.
Another thing I found frustrating about this film is that Zee suddenly arrives as Mariposa’s sidekick, à la Bibble. I know that Zee’s existence is necessary for the plot, because who will Mariposa deliver her inspirational speech to? (where she talks about the importance of friendship and all that). However, it would have been great if perhaps Mariposa met Zee along the way to Shimmerville.
What especially irks me about this is how the film’s description says ‘Mariposa and her furry friend Zee return…’ Like, Zee is not returning! He was not in the previous film! He did not exist before!
Although I disliked the animation for the characters, I thought the overall background scenes were really well-done. It looked like this film wasn’t a quick cash grab like A Fairy Secret was, and the producers (or whoever it was) actually spent time designing everything properly. It looked really good!
Overall, I really did like this film. I felt that the storyline was unique and the dialogue was interesting. I didn’t get bored during this film, and I was glad there was no annoying jokes or bad songs. It was just the right length and apart from the Gwyllion issue, I feel that everything wrapped up nicely and there was a good amount of character development. However, I think this film would have been a lot better if they had returned to the older animation.