For more than 30 years (the last film in the series premiered in 1988), the doors of Poland's most famous wizarding school have remained tightly closed. Until Maciej Kowalski appeared, forcibly broke the lock, ruthlessly entered the building and immediately began renovating the entire title academy. The new version of “Mr. Clix” impresses with its scope, visual imagination and bold, justified attempt to modernize the somewhat ossified plot. However, the effect is not at all satisfactory, because in all this pursuit of showiness and innovation, the emotions and, above all, the charm of Professor Klix himself are lost.
This year marks exactly 40 years since the premiere of Krzysztof Gradowski's film, which, while depicting the adventures of an eccentric wizard and his minions, adhered very closely to Jan Przechowa's original prose. However, even the iconic role of Pyotr Fronczewski and many of the highlights of this Polish-Soviet production will not cover the fact that for modern generations “The Academy of Mr. Klix” of 1983 is very outdated and unacceptable.
Maciej Kowalski was not interested in simple cosmetics with a well-known story. The decision to replace Adaś Niezgódka with Ada Niezgódka set Internet forums on fire and exposed himself to public fire. There was much less controversy over the casting of the lead role, although there were opponents to the casting Thomasz Cote There was also a lot. Even the casting of Piotr Fronczewski in the project did little to ease concerns about the new version of “Academy…”. Fears that, unfortunately, turned out to be partly justified.
The changes are positive, but they lack consistency and development
The creators of the new “Kleks” focused primarily on equal rights and opened the doors of the famous school for girls. The standard for names beginning with the letter “A” was also discontinued, and children from all over the world began to join the strange wizard's wing. The diversification and internationalization of the Academy certainly adds freshness to the plot and thus opens the film to a wider audience. But what's the point if the screenwriters don't pay proper attention to any of these characters and treat them as more or less static background material for Ada and the Kleks.
The result of the lack of ideas for secondary characters is that they play up cliched stereotypes. A young Latino man plays the guitar, a little Japanese girl practices karate, and a Ukrainian girl chases hawks across the steppe. The filmmakers want to be very modern in their approach to Przechowa's prose, but at the same time they reach for easy, outdated associations. It was also supposed to be modern thanks to the location of part of the events in New York, although it is difficult to explain (and the screenwriters do not bother to do so) why Ada lives in this part of the world and what was the motivation for this decision.
It's a beautiful world, even though it's empty inside
The way Mr. Clix's Academy was produced was the biggest whiff of refreshment compared to the 1980s film trilogy. To a large extent, Kowalski and his team met the challenge. You don't get to experience such good special effects and great visuals often in Polish cinema. For the most part, the film looks beautiful and impressive. Even in the scenes when darkness falls thanks to the army of wolves. The director has proven with his previous films (“How I Became a Gangster” and “Underdog”) that he can use the possibilities of modern cinematography and is not shy about showing off.
However, as was the case with his previous titles, Kawulski once again knows no moderation and can literally torture you with intense editing and a soundtrack that never stops even for a second. For this reason, “Academy…”, with its long sections, resembles a dynamically twisting but incoherent music video, where there is no time to look at individual characters and threads. Moreover, the shallow text in many places simply does not explain the changes that occur on screen and in the characters themselves. It is difficult to create a special relationship with them and get involved in the plot itself. This means that the new “Kleks” either do not cause any greater emotions, or even impose them on viewers (at least thanks to one scene in the middle of the film).
It was supposed to be Klix, now it's meatballs
Aside from the emotions, the charm of the professor himself, whose screen presence consists of making pie jokes, leaning awkwardly on the turntable and causing mischief with children, has also evaporated. It's hard to see him as an elite magician who is not only a great uncle to his students, but also a mentor and idol. In the second part of the film, the character Klix virtually disappears from the screen and does not play a major role in defending the academy against the attack of the wolves. Tomasz Kott, although a perfectly valid choice, has nothing to defend himself as an actor or convince the unconvinced..
The young man is a little better Antonina Litwiniak In the role of Ada, she had to carry the film for long periods on her weak shoulders, without any visible support. Because it's hard to find one when he's annoying and one-sided in his jokes Sebastian Stankevich (Matthew Bird). He probably leaves the biggest impression, whether because of his acting or his personality Danuta Stenka, who leads a group of wolf-men with claws and energy. By the way, it looks great, although younger viewers may not necessarily agree with this. The sight of wolves, their language and lifestyle may frighten children.
Welcome to a strange fairy tale
And here we come to the main issue. Who is the new 'Kleks' targeting? As a children's film, Maciej Kowalski's film can still be defended – mainly due to its impressive setting, wise (although clumsily presented) morals and effective pacing. Adult viewers, unlike Gradowski's works, are unlikely to find much dialogue and exposition here, nor an engaging, cohesive story. Despite its visual richness and strong production work, it's simply boring.
It's a strange fairy tale in which the magic of the story can't match the magic of the screen. Where joy mixes with fatigue. The fresh approach to the world and characters presented fades away with each subsequent frame. There are many valuable ideas presented in a way that does not distract the viewer. The title character cannot fully deliver what he was created to do and what is expected of him. And finally – where Piotr Fronczewski utters many empty and unnecessary phrases (although you will still want to listen to him).
Perhaps the “Academy…” is just intended to pave the way for more productions. What we see in the epilogue allows us to believe that the second part of the new series (I think this is how we can talk about it) will compensate for the great dissatisfaction and, above all, will put Clix back in the game, because the professor has not returned from his long vacation yet.
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