Yes, I’m reviewing Barbie: Star Light Adventure. I saw a YouTube featurette advertising this movie and I thought it actually looked… kind of awesome! The first thing that caught my eye was the animation. It wasn’t like the older Barbie movies where the animation looked far behind current technology (I haven’t watched them, but I’ve seen clips). This Barbie looks smooth and expressive, her character design ressembles a Disney princess, and she looks hip with her space vest and pink hair streak. The other thing that grabbed me was the space setting. It looked like a Star Wars for kids (yes, Star Wars is already for kids, but you know what I mean). A space opera Disney princess? I was sold.
Barbie is a cool hoverboard champion who lives on a beautiful jungle planet with her zoologist dad. There’s a liberating sequence where she flies around the forest on her board and meets birds and strange creatures. She also drums a little, because she’s just that cool. Her mom has passed away, so it’s just her dad and her living in a futuristic tree house (they can walk straight through the bay windows!). They also have an adorable pet creature. I know it’s only there to be extra cute, but it’s working. Her mom left her a locket with a recording of a song. We gather that’s what made her interested in music. Her home planet has a striking starry space sky with suns and planets.
Barbie is then invited by the king to join a special team to save the universe because of her hoverboard skills (just go with it). That means she has to travel on her own to the Capital Planet, a world of tall skinny buildings, purple clouds and robots. There, she meets the other teenage girls who have been selected for the mission, including her hoverboard hero, Sal-Lee, who’s an intergalactic gold-medalist. Barbie is being hosted by the king inside a futuristic castle / boarding house, à la Charles Xavier. They set her up in a beautiful room, along with her pet creature, whom she managed to sneak through planetary customs. She also meets a pilot who turns out to be a prince.
Together they go on their mission to save the world. It has something to do with the stars getting dimmer in the sky. This leads to more beautiful space skies and songs. At some point, Barbie plays the guitar and sings her mother’s song to her friends. In the end, they float into a no-gravity magical dark space with ornate spouts of glowing lights. I don’t think it makes much sense, but it sure is beautiful to watch. The animation is truly inspired. It’s like a fireworks display. I also enjoyed the quality of the songs. I would say this movie is a musical. It has several artfully crafted musical moments and it doesn’t feel phoned in. I’ll include an example below, so you can judge for yourself.
I found the story entertaining, wholesome and strangely inspiring. It has filler moments, and not everything makes sense, but it’s full of charm. Barbie is a role model. She’s a talented surfer, ingenious, humble, a good friend. She even has superpowers it turns out, but she acknowledges that she “acts without thinking”. She also has self-doubt moments, like when she says something along the lines of “I could never be a princess”. In the end, the king makes her a princess on the grounds of her own merits. It’s an interesting idea. The only thing that makes the movie feel like a doll commercial is the insistance on fashion and costume changes, like when a magical dress appears in space.
Now check out this scene where Barbie listens to the song in her locket: