The Wizard in the Woods works well enough for a small but sufficient dose of stop-motion magic.
Published on July 28, 2022
Rating 3.5 /5
George Summers writes and directs this simple yet sublime slice of fantasy animation. It’s a very simple tale for an animated short. A wizard ventures into the woods hoping to find some great magic. He happens upon something great but almost makes another unique discovery. There’s a talking tree in the woods. Maybe that tree could become an ally.
The film is shot in glorious stop-motion with that rugged style that gives the film an extra touch of love. I love the look of the wizard with his knit wizard hat, glasses so big and white they obscure his eyes, and a big white beard that obscures the rest of his face. The way it all moves as he shuffles through the woods has this cute and charming sensation. Perhaps it's his squat features or lacking facial expressions that make him so simplistically adorable. For whatever reason, he’s a character that catches your eye and I’m sure is making some marketers of plushies salivate for the marketing potential.
The tree itself is a bit too simplistic. The tree’s expressions are animated digitally as opposed to the same stop-motion as the wizard. There’s a bit of a disorienting nature to having a character exist in a different medium but only with its face. The compositing of this character becomes quite obvious in scenes of darker lighting as the wizard weaves his spells and transforms the tree into a different object.
At only six minutes, there’s a lot of breathing room in this short. We get to see a lot of detail in the woods and take in the environment. Everything from the leaves on the trees to the peering light is gorgeously staged. We get to know just enough about the wizard and the tree to care for their relationship in such a short time. They both have very understated expressions that work to convey their sense of wonder, happiness, and sadness. We also get to appreciate some of the low-key magic of this short in how the wizard tries to find a way to make the world a better place. The parting skies and glowing wands are nice touches.
The Wizard in the Woods works well enough for a small but sufficient dose of stop-motion magic. It uses the medium well enough that it’s easy enough to be won over by its calming sense of animated wonder. It should be noted this short has nothing to do with the children’s book of the same name. That being said, I could easily see kids digging this sweet fantasy that can easily appeal to all ages. The short comes recommended for anybody with a love of animation and magic.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.