Three stars only for the sequences that actually came from the book, as the stop motion work is quite beautiful and well executed.But the framing story, which seems to think we need the message pounded on us with a twenty- pound sledge hammer, was totally unnecessary and — as I"m afraid it might be — put in a sop as part of the "empower little girls!" campaign currently running through almost all media. (Let me add, I have no problem with empowerment, but it doesn't need to be slathered over *everything*.)The Little Prince isn't about empowerment. It really isn't about the power of imagination, although the marketing might like you to believe that. Rather, it's a meditation on life and death, on love and loss — and the filmmakers here completely missed the point in their rush to create this mangled view of a book whose message comes from a more delicate and thoughtful place. I applaud the art, to be sure — the CG work is nice... just not for this particular story. It needs its own story to tell, not tailgating on the back of something else.
The Little Prince is an adaption of the classic children's tale, with a modern twist. The film follows a young girl who lives with her single mother. The pair are highly regimented, and trying hard to get the young girl into a prestigious private school. To do so, a strict regiment of studying is required, which books her entire summer. She has no issue with this, until the kooky old man next door fires a propeller through her back wall, and changes the young girls life. He introduces her to his story of a young prince and his travels (loosely, the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry tale), and she begins to flounder on her studies, and opens her imagination up to the wondrous tales of adventure offered, and begins to wonder if they are really real.This is a well told story with an interesting twist to it. The Little Prince is a classic tale, and one which has sparked the imaginations of children the world over (and did so for me as well). Making a film out of such a tale can be daunting. How to adapt it to modern audiences? How to get studio backing for the project? Should it be a faithful adaption, or should there be changes? This version of the story is well told, and revolves quite a bit around the meta-story more so than the actual Little Prince tale. It takes place after the events of the story. The Aviatar is an old man, the Little Prince grown up, the stars have changed. This is more a tale of unlocking the power of imagination, and remembering the childhood we all once had, and the amazing and creative things we did back then.The film is animated in two styles. The first, is the main story, and features a more "realistic" style animation akin to a modern Disney film. The second is a paper-mache style animation done for the retelling of the Little Prince. Both suit the story well, although I personally preferred the more magical and innovative animation style done for the Little Prince sections of the film, over the more realistic style.Story-wise, I was left feeling lukewarm. The innovative story was interesting and fun, and sure to be appealing to kids and watchable for adults. I particularly enjoyed the interesting fantasy elements, which felt pure and innocent. The story of the young girl fit well enough into the framework of the Little Prince, as she journey's to find out what has happened since the story ended. Even so, some bits of the story felt highly manufactured. It is disappointing in some respects that the filmmakers did not give more story time and credit to the original work, and sacrificed much to a bog-standard version of childhood innocence. The Little Prince itself would have made a fantastic film (or even television series), and it feels wasteful to give it so little screen time in relation to the story of the girl and her mother, and how they don't understand each other, and how the mother forgot her childhood and so on. I unfortunately found myself constantly feeling disappointed at the films storytelling, and although it was not awful or even bad, it did not due the old story justice, and does not hold enough magic itself to create a new tale for the ages. It just felt mediocre.The target audience for the film also felt muddled. The film will surely be too childish for fans of the source work (those coming at it from a nostalgic lens). The story was also too grey and serious in some places for younger kids. The world the young girl inhibits is grey and corporate. Her life is regimented by schedules, the stars are gone, and she has no time for fun and games. Much of the movie's run time takes place in this space, and it may turn out to be to dull children.The voice acting in the film also felt a tad wooden. Jeff Bridges as the Aviator was a good choice on paper. He has a distinctive voice, and has played wonderful roles in many of his recent films. Even so, he felt too wooden. The voice acting felt like an Anime English dub, with little emotion or backing from him. Mackenzie Foy, as the young girl, was much more interesting in most place, but still suffered some of the same restrictions Bridges did, with wooden tones and such.As can be seen, this was a mixed bag for me to watch. It will be a disappointment for those who really enjoy the source work, and children may find it to grey and dull. The voice acting was wooden as well, and fell flat throughout the film. Even so, the interesting dual animation styles, the nods to the source work, and the cool fantasy elements to the film make it a more enjoyable watch than not. It is worth a shot for those with kids, and adults may get some good laughs and heartfelt moments out of it. All in all, a fairly enjoyable film with some unfortunate flaws, but still an interesting modern take on a classic children's tale. 6/10