The Magic Voyage
The Magic Voyage is a 1992 German animated fantasy film, released theatrically in Germany as Die Abenteuer von Pico und Columbus (English: The Adventures of Pico and Columbus) by Bavaria Film in 14 February 1992. The film was later dubbed in English and released in the United States and Canada. Two English dubs were actually produced. The first one was a rare English dub by Atlas Film, while the second English dub was released by Hemdale Film Corporation as The Magic Voyage on 25 April 1993 with a new and more well-known voice cast. Both English versions also had different music soundtracks and different translations. It was produced and directed by Michael Schoemann.
Christopher Columbus decides to go on a journey to prove that the Earth is not flat. His companion is a smart woodworm named Pico, who's on a quest of his own: to save a beautiful fairy princess named Marilyn from the evil Lord Swarm and his insect army.
Why This Voyage Isn't Magic
- Cheap introduction. The paintings of the ships, while decent, look a bit unfinished for the most part.
- Inconsistently drawn animation. Sometimes is fluidly-animated in some shots, but other times its animation looks like it came out of a Saturday morning cartoon.
- Awful and annoying voice acting, especially the Hemdale version. The characters just won't shut up, due to how the dialogue is fast-paced with little to no pauses between lines (only in the Hemdale version, for the Atlas version had less of an issue than the Hemdale one).
- There are three rats who serve no purpose other than being filler for the film. Same for Bob the Beaver, who is very pointless as he only shows up near the end of the film.
- Marilyn (Pico's love interest) is an obvious rip-off of Tinker Bell.
- It repeats the myth that it was commonly believed that the world was flat in Columbus' time and his men were afraid of sailing off the edge of the world. The world was widely known to be round at the time (flat-Earth models are only really found in very old cultures such as ancient Babylon, and the ancient Greeks not only knew the world was round but had calculated roughly how large it was), Columbus' men just knew that his math was way off and that they'd all starve to death trying to sail West from Spain to India. They would have been right if there hadn't turned out to be another continent in the way. Never mind the question of how a woodworm is supposed to have figured out that the Earth is a sphere. In addition, Columbus is depicted as assuming the world is square when he (again, like everyone else) knew it was round.
- Inserts bizarre fantasy elements into a historical story, in particular the vaguely Aztec society Columbus encounters have built a giant golden pyramid to put a magical monster called the Swarm Lord in and are happy when he kills it. This is, um, not exactly how Columbus' encounters with the natives went, to put it very mildly indeed.
- A very pointless romance between Columbus and the Queen.
- Overused loud noises that will get on your last nerves.
- Confusing dream scenes of the two protagonists.
- The Swarm Lord is simply a ridiculous concept for a film regarding Christopher Columbus. In fact, many of the fantasy elements feel out of place in the film.
- At the beginning of the film, there is an adviser (who clearly looks evil) who tells the king not to trust Christopher Columbus. You'd think that he would be an antagonist of the film, but he is not, as he shows up once at the beginning and at a scene where Columbus is about to set sail to find land and is never seen or heard of again. The only antagonist is actually the Swarm Lord. The Nostalgia Critic called him "a total waste of animation" whilst doing a fake Italian accent.
- Very lazy fight scenes.
- Poorly written story.
- Forgettable songs (only in the Hemdale version).
- Some scenes are too inappropriate and/or dark for kids (in Columbus's dream scene, he pulls a telescope out of his pants, and the next scene shows Columbus almost getting hanged when the crew can't see land).
- False advertising: From the box art, you'd think Christopher Columbus would be the main character, but he's actually not. The real main character is Pico (the original name of the film is The Adventures of Pico and Columbus, so there's that).
- Bad lip-syncing. Due to the fact that this was a German film dubbed in English, most of the time, characters are talking when their mouths aren't open. It feels like the dubbing studio is following in the footsteps of the Fleischers' post-synch method, which recorded their dialogue after the animation is completed. The Atlas version doesn't do it for most of the scenes, but the dream sequences still feel ad-libbed in post-synchronization.
- Some of the characters are extremely dumb. For example, when Pico told Marilyn (his love interest) to get out of the honeycomb tower the first time, she did nothing other than just sitting there in the same spot giggling (but follows Pico after he tells her again).
- On that topic, Marilyn is very useless in the film and doesn't have much of a personality.
- Has highly inaccurate tale on how America was founded, especially when you consider that Colombus owned natives as slaves and used them for violence.
- The songs ain't too bad (except for the ones from the Hemdale version).
- Al Jarreau's "Heaven Is" is also really nice to listen to.
- Dom DeLuise and Mickey Rooney still give off good performances, despite the awful material they were given.
In the Nostalgia Critic's review of the film, he criticized the voice acting, animation and story, with special criticism being reserved for the random loud noises throughout the movie.
In Electronic Heroes' review of the film, he criticized the random scenes, pointless characters coming out of nowhere, no real story focus and characters speaking over each other. He did give the movie some praise for being different, though.