‘Kleks Academy’ has a fairytale ending, but the movie falls short of expectations

By Daniel Hart
Published: June 19, 2024 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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Kleks Academy Promotional Image (Credit - Netflix)

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

2.5

Summary

Kleks Academy shows the characters have a lot of imagination, but the movie lacks it.

It’s best not to take Kleks Academy too seriously, as it’s rooted in children’s imagination, after all. However, I am not convinced that director Maciej Kawulski was sure of how serious to take it either. The Polish movie, first released in Warsaw in December 2023, has all the heart of child’s play, but the execution is off the mark.

Based on the 1946 book The Academy of Mr. Kleks, the labeled “Netflix original” movie follows 12-year-old Ada Contrary (played by Antonina Litwiniak), a casual and free-flowing young girl who finds herself in a fairy tale land (or named Fairylandia in the novel), enrolled in the Kleks Academy, an educational establishment for wizards. The land is a playground for children, as the scope behind the magic is imagination. Nearby, though, the Wolfurs Realm is lurking, looking to get revenge on Prince Matthew, who is now living a life as a cursed bird.

The fantasy family movie hits home the childlike imagination that the book presumably evokes. Kleks Academy is exactly how I’d imagine life if I were suddenly thrown into a magical world and expected to parse what was in front of me at a young age. I’d expect it to look magical and fun.

The only problem is that the movie spends the first half doing as many scenes as possible showcasing how wonderful this world is for young people as Ada’s skepticism seeps away. The context of the growing darkness is slotted in, at random, whenever the director feels like it. It’s a disjointed experience, especially when suddenly, the audience is holstered into the second half, where a war is seemingly brewing between the Kleks Academy and the Wolfurs Realm.

It’s unlike Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, where the magical world unravels alongside the context. I felt like Kleks Academy provides too much non-story experience, and by the time you reach the critical juncture, you are bored.

But I’m not going to sway away from the fact that this is a family movie, so I’ll hold the criticism at bay slightly. Then again, I think the director struggles with the genre, too. The movie appears eager to imply violence with words but then matches it with nothingness. It feels like the director and the writers wanted to do more with the world but were restricted by their target audience. Sometimes, you have to be a little brave, but there’s no showing of courage here.

Kleks Academy could have been way more substantive, but as a family-friendly movie, it serves up magical moments, even if the direction is a little lacking.

Ending Explained: Does Ada Save The Kleks Academy?

Ada Contrary in Kleks Academy

Antonina Litwiniak as Ada Contrary in Kleks Academy (Credit – Netflix)

By the time we reach the final act of Kleks Academy, the Wolfurs Realm has captured Princess Matthew, who is now scheduled for execution, and they have taken over the education establishment and fairytale land. Ada is back in the real world, unsure what to do next. She’s distraught after losing Albert in the icy water.

But it soon becomes apparent to her, after speaking to Doctor, that she can create her own fairytale, and after realizing her greatest power is empathy and inner calm, she returns to the fairytale realm.

She saves her uncle, Professor Kleks, and rounds up all the children to fight against the Wolves from the Wolfur Realm.

Eventually, the Prince Wolf captures Ada, and this is where her influence takes place. She pleads with the wolves to stop the need for vengeance. While she understands that Princess Matthew has hurt them, she does not believe hurting him back will resolve matters and begs that they allow him to return to his original form.

Prince Wolf (who we learn is called Vincent in the end) can see that Ada’s intention for peace is genuine and allows Prince Matthew to be released and return to his old form. Matthew is now way older, but at least he’s no longer a bird.

Vincent’s sister is furious about this decision and tries to attack her brother but fails miserably. The realm is back to peace and harmony again, which supports Ada Contrary’s other name, as prophecized, “Master of Harmony.”

As Kleks Academy ends, we get a mid-credits scene. It’s Ada’s 13th birthday, and she’s been given a surprise party. But an unexpected guest shows up—Albert. He’s not dead and shows that he’s potentially a robot, which is why the icy water did not kill him.

One of the mid-credit scenes flits to the mountains of the fairytale land, showing an older man looking into the distance. We can only assume this is Ada’s father, whom she still hasn’t found.


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