‘Kleks Academy’ Netflix Review: A Mishmash Of Many Stories And Steers Away From Originality

There are hardly any films in the fantasy fiction genre that do not cater to children. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Harry Potter films, Enchanted, The Chronicles of Narnia, How to Train Your Dragon, The Golden Compass, Hugo, Dischanted, Aladdin, etc., are some of the examples of the films many of us have grown up on. Kleks Academy is a Polish Netflix original that tells the story of a young woman discovering her family secret and using it for the benefit of others. This 2023 film is directed by Maciej Kawulski and is now streaming on Netflix. 

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Kleks Academy is a two-hour-long movie that is based on the novel of the same name by Polish author Jan Brzechwa. Ada Contrary is a young girl in her teens busy making a vlog for her father, who seems to have disappeared from her and her mother’s lives for good. Simultaneously, a disfigured man who looks a lot like a bird is going around the world to get pre-trained children to join the Kleks Academy, which is run by Ambrose Kleks. Ada is also approached by the same person but she is not so sure about the existence of magic and the revelation her mother made about the academy and why it was important to attend it. Simultaneously, there is another group of species known as the Wulfurs, who are hunting a certain Prince Mathew. Who was Prince Mathew? Did Ada save Prince Matthew and her friends? Did Ada adapt to the life of living around the magical academy?

The problem with Kleks Academy is that there is no originality in the screenplay. Even though it is based on a book, it is evident that the movie is inspired by a lot of fantasy fiction, and the setup would remind the audience of many films and television shows they might have watched in their younger days. The screenplay does not hold up well throughout the movie, as the story is stretched, repetitive, and predictable till the end. Fantasy fiction apart from world building constitutes the story of the characters and their well defined arcs. Since the movie is about magic, there is hardly any defined set of rules in that universe created by the director. If there are no clear lines laid down, the screenplay ends up being all over the place, which is what happened in this film.

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The screenplay is the weakest link in the movie, and as a result, the direction is severely affected by it. Maciej Kawulski has a hard time working around the uneven screenplay. A lot of plot points are not clarified. This movie would remind people of The Tearsmith. It had the style and elements that could excite the children, but beyond that, there is hardly any emotion or depth that is explored by the makers. We have not read the book, so we can’t really comment on how true the movie is to the source material, but it seems there is a lot of discrepancy while adapting the screenplay from already-written source material. 

It is not very difficult to find similarities between the origin stories of Harry Potter and Ada Contrary. One could hardly ignore the disfigured man who looks like a bird and is like a Hagrid figure who loves every child that has come to join the Kleks Academy. Ambrose Klek is also reminiscent of Albus Dumbledore, but he comes across as a younger and chirpier version. There are many similarities, such as the ones mentioned above, which are hard to overlook. There is a specific subplot about Ada wanting to be friends with a disturbed child of her age, Albert. The fact that a girl as young as her wants to be the person who wants to bring about changes in her male friend, who visibly has had a difficult childhood, why is this idea of women being the saviors of disturbed men still a trope? Many children of an impressionable age would be the key viewers, and they would dub this behavior as normal. 

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The good vs. evil trope does not come off well because the makers of the movie try to add humor to it, but that does not work. The makers of the movie are not sure if they wanted to make a drama-filled fantasy fiction or make it humorous to cater to the younger generation. Albert, as a character, is not given any arc to follow up on his role in the bigger scheme of things. Characters changing their minds over one heartfelt speech is a convenient trope just to close the loose ends. It makes the narrative lazy. The ending proves the movie is headed for a sequel. But because of the way the first film was performed, the workings of the second film seem feeble. The editing of the film is the most jarring aspect, as the scenes are not seamlessly joined. It jumps from one scene to another, and it feels as if the narrative is not connected at all. Good editing would have made the movie watchable to some extent. The only relatable element in the movie is the use of characters from the fairy tales we all grew up in. Cinderella, Snow White, Aladdin, and The Little Match Girl have been featured in this movie, and it is a good callback to the older generation who have grown up watching these characters. It is also an ode to fairy tales and how they left a lasting impression.

The writers, however, added shades of gray to several negative characters that added to the intrigue for some time, but that alone does not carry the film on its shoulders. It is interesting to watch fantasy films that usually rely on good vs. evil tropes and are willing to look for good qualities that are being put across as negative characters. The performances, however, also do not add anything extra to the film. Since a lot of the films are about children, the child actors have nothing new to offer right from the start until the end. The movie is all about good CGI, VFX, and stellar cinematography that captures the innocence of children who are at an age where they believe in speaking the truth and being honest about many aspects. 

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Kleks Academy is a decent watch for children, but adults can skip this wholeheartedly as there is nothing they have not watched in their favorite fantasy films growing up.


Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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