Kleks Academy (2024) Movie Review – Sparkly eye candy wrapped around a confusing plot

Sparkly eye candy wrapped around a confusing plot

Kleks Academy is based on a children’s fantasy novel from Polish author Jan Brzechwa. The book is highly regarded but I doubt the film will get the same level of adulation.

There are flashes of brilliance, most notably in the fairy tale setting that has been creatively put together. But thanks to a muddled plot, some dodgy editing, and pantomime-like acting from certain members of the cast, this is a film that ultimately falls flat, despite the classic status of the source material. 

The movie tells the story of a young girl named Ada who discovers the existence of the titular school that sits within a fairy tale world. After being transported to this realm by a prince who is half-human and half-bird (he’s not the most unusual character you’ll meet), she meets Kleks, the owner of the academy who turns out to be her uncle. 

The academy, a place where children come to learn magic, has much in common with Hogwarts. There are spells to learn, secrets to uncover, and a headmaster who is protective of the students in his care. 

Similarities to the Harry Potter books don’t end with the school setting as Ada is a little like the bespectacled hero of J.K. Rowling’s works. She hasn’t been orphaned (although she has lost her father), but like Harry, she has a special destiny that is gradually revealed during the film’s story. She also has friends who aid her on her mission to save the school when dark forces intrude on its premises. 

The fairy tale world the school exists in has been painted with pink brushstrokes – by which we mean nearly everything in it is in shades of pink, from the grass on the fields to the trees in the forest. It’s an odd design choice but it works quite well, although I personally would have preferred a more varied colour palette. 

The fantasy realm is populated by creatures and characters from classic children’s stories, including unicorns, mermaids, Snow White, and even the Little Match Girl. It’s all rather magical but as we alluded to earlier, all that glitters is not gold.

Wrapped within all the eye candy is a story that is more confusing than it should have been thanks to shoddy editing and badly explained plot elements. Characters disappear without much explanation and certain events happen within the tale with little-to-no forewarning. As such, the movie can be quite frustrating at times, though those familiar with the book might be better able to overlook the holes in the plotting.   

If we had a better understanding of the characters within the plot, the film may have been more engaging. But as many of them are thinly drawn with poorly thought-out backstories, it’s hard to care much about them, even during a moment when one of them dies. It’s hard to cry over the loss of somebody when we haven’t had reason to warm to them!

In terms of story, we have the usual tale of good vs evil, with Kleks and his students on one side of a war, and an evil Queen and her wolf-like army on the other. The scene is set for a climactic confrontation between both forces but if you’re expecting anything like the spectacular wand-waving action from the Deathly Hallows, you’re going to be disappointed. The battle between the two sides is resolved quickly, with little in the way of dramatic tension or spectacular visual effects wizardry. In short, it’s all rather boring!

At its heart, the film has important messages about believing in yourself and not losing touch with the power of your imagination. This is all very commendable. However, there are far better fantasy movies with similar themes – The NeverEnding Story, The Wizard of Oz – that do a better job of teaching both adults and kids these important lessons.

Kleks Academy could have been a decent film. The fantasy setting is well-realized and the nods to classic fairy tales are great. But with a plot that has been hastily cobbled together with little to no thought given to coherency, it’s hard to recommend. The film isn’t awful but it’s sorely in need of a magical wand to put all of its fractured story elements back together.

 

Read More: Kleks Academy – Ending Explained


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