Director/Production Design – Walter P. Martishius, Co-Director – Will Lau, Screenplay – Elise Allen & Diane Duane, Producers – Nancy Bennett & Luke Carroll, Music – Eric Colvin, Animation Supervisors – William Gordon & Jeremy McCarron, Digital Effects Supervisor – Tricia Jellis. Production Company – Mattel Entertainment/Mainframe Entertainment.
Kelly Sheridan (Elina), Kathleen Barr (Laverna), Lee Tockar (Bibble/Fungus/Happy Trolls), Tabitha St. Germain (Dandelion), Mark Oliver (Hue), Venus Terzo (Azura), Chiara Zanni (Dahlia the Dryad), Alessandro Juliani (Prince Kai)
In Fairytopia, the land of the fairies, the fairy Elina is cruelly taunted by pixies because she has no wings. Meanwhile, the evil fairy Laverna captures several of the Guardians of the realm and then releases into the air a potion that causes all flying creatures to become sick and lose the ability to fly. As the other fairies find they can no longer take to the air, Elina, who is able to walk on her feet, sets out on a quest to find a means of stopping Laverna.
Barbie Fairytopia was the fifth of the films made by the Canadian computer animation firm Mainframe Entertainment and based on Mattel’s best-selling doll Barbie. It had been preceded by Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001), Barbie as Rapunzel (2002), Barbie of Swan Lake (2003), Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper (2004) and was followed by Barbie and the Magic of the Pegasus in 3D (2005), Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses (2006), Barbie as The Island Princess (2007), Barbie & the Diamond Castle (2008), Barbie in A Christmas Carol (2008), Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009), Barbie Presents Thumbelina (2009), Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale (2010), Barbie in a Mermaid Tale (2010), Barbie: A Perfect Christmas (2011), Barbie: A Fairy Secret (2011), Barbie: Princess Charm School (2011), Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2 (2012), Barbie: The Princess & The Popstar (2012), Barbie and Her Sisters in a Pony Tale (2013), Barbie in The Pink Shoes (2013), Barbie Mariposa and the Fairy Princess (2013), Barbie and the Secret Door (2014), Barbie: The Pearl Princess (2014), Barbie and Her Sisters in the Great Puppy Adventure (2015), Barbie in Princess Power (2015), Barbie in Rock’n’Royals (2015), Barbie and Her Sisters in a Puppy Chase (2016), Barbie Spy Squad (2016), Barbie Star Light Adventures (2016), Barbie: Dolphin Magic (2017) and Barbie: Video Game Hero (2017).
Whereas all the other Barbie films had placed Barbie in either fairytales or adaptations of classical ballets, Barbie Fairytopia was the first Barbie film based on original material. It was also the first to dispense with the framing device that had Barbie as a character in the present-day telling the story to a younger child, where the body of the film would then be taken up by the story featuring Barbie in some fairytale princess role. In fact, there is not even any character named Barbie in Fairytopia.
The one thing that must be said about Barbie Fairytopia is that it was the most beautifully animated of Mainframe’s Barbie films up to that point. Although the name of Pixar has come to the forefront of animation for their pioneering work with the first computer animated film, Mainframe were one of the first companies in the world to work in the arena of commercial computer animation. Mainframe’s earlier Barbie films look spartan and bare in terms of animation but Barbie Fairytopia has been drawn with a beautiful pastel colour palette. The backgrounds have been rendered as the CG equivalent of watercolours. The supporting cute and cuddly creatures have been created with a colourful originality, even if as characters they are just standard talking animal sidekicks.
On the minus side, Barbie Fairytopia is simplistic in terms of story. Even though Mainframe employ sf/fantasy novelist Diane Duane to co-write the film, the script feels decidedly generic. It is a fantasy quest entirely by the numbers, filled with a series of generic tasks and wilderness encounters and with a lack of any complexity or depth as a story. Indeed, the story only seems there to hang the pretty backgrounds and interestingly original character designs off. Certainly, for its artistry and dimensionality, Barbie Fairytopia is worth seeing; as a solidly satisfying film, it is less so.
Subsequently, Mainframe spun the Barbie Fairytopia universe out in two further films, Barbie Mermaidia (2006) and Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007), as well as Barbie Mariposa (2008), which deals with a different set of fairies.