It is very easy to meet the 'Barbie' films with a lot of dislike and scorn and they are all very lowly rated here (despite some favourable reviews). It is understandable to take issue with the dialogue (a fair few are ropy in this regard), the predictability of the stories, the odd annoying character, the animation in a few (not all are well animated) and whether there is enough for adults to keep interest.
Despite not being the main target audience, to me they are mostly better than given credit for, easy to take them for what they are and don't deserve to be dismissed as baby-ish and for little girls only (a very narrow minded generalisation). Are they animation masterpieces? No. Are they among the best films ever made? Again no. Are they worth watching if taken for what they are? Absolutely for most of them. Most of them look good if not having the polish of studios specialising in computer animation (Pixar for one), often great music, good lessons and messages, a good deal of charm, have their heart in the right place and have entertaining characters well voiced (some had actors of considerable calibre like Tim Curry, Anjelica Huston, Martin Short and Kelsey Grammar, all of them terrific in their respective outings Curry especially) and a likable title character that particularly young girls can relate to.
There are better 'Barbie' films ('Nutcracker', 'Diamond Castle', 'Island Princess', 'Pink Shoes'), but also far worse ('A Fairy Secret', 'A Fashion Fairytale', 'The Princess and the Popstar', 'Princess Power'). 'Barbie Video Game Hero' is much better than its IMDb rating at the moment, it's nothing mind-blowing but it's colourful undemanding fun and credit is due trying to attract a wider audience with a concept (video games) that is very much relevant and a lot of people still enjoy. Is there a preference for the original traditional 'Barbie' films and style? Absolutely.
'Barbie Video Game Hero' is not a film to be seen if expecting depth or originality, something that with me was long ago never things to expect. The dialogue (as with almost all the later 'Barbie' films, and even in the good ones that are not quite among the best) is simplistic and at times forced, even for somebody who doesn't expect a script in a 'Barbie' film to be good. The story is yet another that sees the viewer a step or two ahead of the film in how things are headed with even the messaging at times being a bit repetitive this time round. The characters do lack depth beyond neatly black and white.
However, the animation is quite nice with the lack of the original/traditional look that in general appeals much more than the modern one not being a bother whatsoever. There are some beautiful bright colours (never excessive here), handsome and imaginative backgrounds and the character designs and movements have natural freedom rather than being stiff. It's not exactly imaginative and it's not as polished as Pixar, but when you have computer animation that makes you physically ill like the entire output of Video Brinquedo and Spark Plug Entertainment and the sequels to 'The Swan Princess' (the CGI ones) and 'Alpha and Omega' it's very clear which is better than them and this.
Music is upbeat and fitting, enough to put children and adults alike in a good mood. Nothing generic or too loud or intrusive here. Really enjoyed what was done with the video game concept, there may be not much that's imaginative but the levels are colourful, interesting and fun, the different characters that pop up serve a purpose and are engaging and the emoji virus conflict creates some suspense.
Regarding the story, it is predictable but it is full of energy, cuteness and charm with its heart in the right place the entire time (nothing at all mean spirited). It flies by and the action is very much eventful and rarely repetitive, plus it doesn't feel anywhere near as much of a Hodge Podge of tired ideas like a few of the recent 'Barbie' films have been. Throughout, 'Barbie Video Game Hero' is fun-loving and well-intended.
Characters, even with the lack of depth, are engaging and carry the film well. Barbie is likable and resourceful as ever, as well as smart, serving as a good role model for young girls especially. The chemistry between the characters is great too, as is, beyond the repetition and samey nature of the messages themselves (important messages but have been covered many times previously in the series) the positive messaging that was delivered with the right amount of making-its-point and subtlety.
Voice acting is pretty good and done with a lot of spirit. One may miss Kelly Sheridan, but the new voice actress is a worthy replacement.
In summation, colourful undemanding fun that succeeds in what it set out to do and doesn't try to do anything more, while also lacking in a few elements that have been proved to not be strong suits with the recent 'Barbie' films in the first place. 7/10 Bethany Cox