The early 2000s were simpler times. It was an era of low waisted jeans, Motorola flip phones, So Fresh CD’s and, for those that enjoyed taking a risk, Limewire. But for babies like me, it was the origin of an entire franchise of direct-to-disc Barbie films.

First of all, allow me to clarify; I enjoy all movies. If the movie is good, regardless of what it is, I’ll watch it. And much to my boyfriend’s disgust, this includes films made for preteens. So yesterday, I made the controversial yet brave decision to venture back in time and spend 9 hours watching six of the original Barbie movies and subsequently share my thoughts with you.

A lot of research went into the decision of choosing which six films to watch (currently 36 direct-to-disc Barbie movies have been produced since 2001), and upon watching and reading various personal reviews from other Barbie-buffs, I decided that I would stick with the original six, regardless of how high or low they had been ranked by others.

As I write this, I’m tired. I've developed a migraine stemming from the copious amount of screen exposure I endured to meet my quota for the day. Initially, I didn't think I could do it, but I labored and toiled and unraveled confusing Barbie plots for 9 hours straight and now finally, here we are:
A definitive ranking of the OG Barbie films, from worst to best.


6th place: Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus
The film is about a princess who goes off in search of the “wand of light”, which is apparently the only thing that can defeat the evil villain known as Wenlock who has turned her village to stone.
Straight off the bat, the storyline was so weak that halfway through the movie, I forgot why they were on the adventure in the first place. More annoying was Annika’s pet baby polar bear that she picked up whilst ice skating (makes total fucking sense) who accompanies her everywhere. Allow me to say that I have never been so infuriated by an animal sidekick, and that I spent the entire 88 minutes of the film hoping it would yeet itself off the flying Pegasus.
Finally, Wenlock was a terrible villain. His voice and mannerisms were irritating, and he came across as an incel who dealt with rejection by destroying everybody’s lives. Additionally, they gave no backstory as to why he is the way he is.
Ultimately, the poor storyline was the worst part, seconded only by the stupid fucking bear.


5th place: Barbie in the Nutcracker
Please don’t come for me, I knew this decision would stir controversy. But truthfully, I really wasn’t grabbed by the movie.
This film was loosely based off Tchaïkovsky’s classic ballet storyline, whereby a young Clara is gifted a wooden nutcracker doll for Christmas, and upon falling asleep, she “wakes up” to find a battle commencing between her beloved nutcracker and the evil mouse king, who currently holds a violent reign over Parthenia (a miniature land that can be accessed through a mousehole). Most of the supporting characters were pretty irritating, meaning that Barbie and the Nutcracker pretty much had to carry the entire film on their backs, and due to it being the first film in the franchise, the animation was fairly poor. I admit that it was a sweet and wholesome film, but despite the constant influx of nostalgia, I just didn’t feel attached to the storyline like I wanted to, though I understand much of the story follows the premise of the original nutcracker. Is that poor Barbie’s fault? No. If anybody, Tchaïkovsky probably needs a good talking to. But since he’s not around anymore, that means that Barbie suffers the full brunt of the poor review. Sorry Barbs, maybe next time.


4th place: Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
To say I had super low expectations for this film would be an understatement. A movie about twelve sisters who found a secret world under their bedroom that they could only access through the power of dance? Give me a break. Even for Barbie, this made me roll my eyes. But honestly, it wasn’t even that awful. It felt a lot like what you imagine a Barbie movie to be like: Okay, but a little disappointing. And more importantly, the music and dance scenes didn't raise any eyebrows, which was a massive letdown considering that is literally what half of the movie is about. 
I previously mentioned my deep-rooted hatred for talking animals or pets that serve absolutely no purpose to Barbie films, and the stupid parrot and monkey in this movie take the cake. They made my blood boil. I felt violated. @Barbie, enough is enough.
In a nutshell, there weren't any major plot or character issues in this movie, I just didn't love it. But I didn't hate it either. Eh.


3rd place: Princess and the Pauper
Did anyone tell you it’s a musical? No? Well, no one told me either, and maybe they should have. In the opening scene, I was blindsided by what felt like a 15-minute musical number about "wanting to be free" and I subsequently didn't recover until about halfway through the film. 
Apart from all of the singing, it really is a cinematic masterpiece. There was an elaborate and detailed plot, a wide range of characters with their own complex storylines and problems, and a cunning (albeit sometimes annoying) villain with comedic henchmen. It almost didn’t even feel like a Barbie film. It was good. Really good in fact. And I plan to watch this again in the future to re-evaluate. But was it as good as what everybody says? No. And I blame the talking cats and dogs and the copious amounts of singing. Perhaps for my musical lovers out there, this may just be enough to take gold for you. But for now, it’ll have to settle for a very close third place.


2nd place: Barbie as Rapunzel
This was tough. This was one of my favourite films growing up, so I had to make a real effort to remove the bias whilst reviewing, and though it still is MY favourite, it is, objectively speaking, 2nd best. 
It’s the classic Barbie film based on a classic storyline that we all know and love. A pretty girl with long blonde hair is locked up in a tower after being stolen away from her parents by an evil witch. Standard. However, with the help of a magic paintbrush, Barbie is able to create portals to secretly escape the castle and venture out to the village where she eventually meets and falls in love with Prince Stefan.
The music in this film is #underrated. If you didn't know, this movie featured the London Symphony Orchestra, so Barbie definitely knows how to pull some strings. It makes the movie even more magic, and the violin alone almost brought a tear to my eye on multiple occasions. Also, the scene where she paints herself the perfect dress for the ball STILL gives me goosebumps.
One major plot issue I have trouble with is Rapunzel’s magic paintbrush. It was initially a hairbrush that just magically turned into a paintbrush halfway through the film. Why? How? I really don’t know.
Surprisingly, I found the cast of animal sidekicks in this film quite endearing (big call). Penelope the dragon seemed to cause more problems than she solved, however, along with the old-man rabbit, Penelope's father, and the oddly effeminate ferret who snitches on everyone, they were probably the least annoying animal sidekicks across the entire franchise.
But despite all of this, I know deep down that it lacked major plot twists and elaborate storylines that would have easily taken it to the next level. Rapunzel, I'll always love you.


1st place: Barbie of Swan Lake
The cream of the crop. The crowning jewel of Barbie films. I give you Barbie of Swan Lake. What can I say? Another film loosely based off a Tchaïkovsky ballet, Swan Lake was everything the Nutcracker wishes it was and more. Our leading lady, Odette, stumbles across an enchanted forest where its inhabitants are placed under an evil curse by Rothbart that turns them into animals by day, only allowing them to attain their human form by night. 
The dance scenes shook me to my core, I loved the backstory behind the Villain's motives, and similarly to the Princess and the Pauper, it showcased an excellent array of characters. The villains, voiced by actors otherwise known as Kelsey Grammar from Frasier and Janice from Friends, are the antagonists you never asked for but deep down always needed.
Truthfully, it isn't so much a good film as it is a beautifully orchestrated masterpiece that belongs up there with The Titanic, Gone With the Wind, and every Tarantino film ever.
I have not a bad word to say about this film. Barbie, you have done it again.


This post is probably going to be one of those things that I should have left in my folder with all the other documents that will never see the light of day. Or who knows, maybe this is just the beginning and I'll review more movie franchises in the future. Either way, I hope it was worth ruining the value of my blog over.

            - Loz


This has since been edited, and Rapunzel has been pushed up to 2nd place where it rightfully belongs.

No comments: