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Mary and the Witch's Flower review

There is nothing I enjoy quite as much on a grey, rainy day than curling up on the sofa with a soft blanket and a hot drink, snuggling with the family and drifting into the magical world of anime.

We were thrilled when we heard Studio Ponoc were releasing Mary and the Witch's Flower in UK cinemas and even more thrilled to be invited by Britmums to a family preview at Regent Street Cinema in London.

Since our kids were small they have enjoyed Studio Ghibli films such as My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Ponyo and Spirited Away - in fact we now own the whole set on DVD. Then we discovered Wolf Children, from Mamoru Hosoda and more recently they are engrossed in the series Fairy Tail and DanMachi.

After watching the trailer at home we were totally excited - we're all big fans of myth and magic and to see that it looked like a mixture of Harry Potter with Spirited Away - well, we couldn't wait.

Regent Street Cinema is London's oldest cinema, there were some fun activities lined up for the kids in the foyer including planting a flower, face painting and a green screen photo booth.

The English version has been dubbed with the voice talents of Ruby Barnhill (Sophie from the BFG), Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent. Ruby, who is the voice of Mary, came on stage to talk a little about the character.

The movie has all the looks and feel of a Studio Ghibli animation, which is no surprise really, it is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, animator on classics such as Spirited Away, Ponyo and Arriety. Studio Ponoc was founded by former Studio Ghibli lead film producer Yoshiaki Nishimura in April 2015.

Based on an adaptation of Mary Stewart's 1971 fantasy novel "The Little Broomstick" - Mary and the Witch's Flower will transport you into a magical land.

The story is set around a young red-headed girl named Mary who is staying with her Great-Aunt Charlotte in the countryside, she is bored, curious and has no self confidence at all. She has no friends apart from a boy called Peter who always teases her.

Whilst out exploring for the day she meets a black cat who leads her into the forest - where she discovers an old broomstick in amongst the trees and a mysterious sparkly blueish-purple flower which she picks and takes home - despite the cat warning her. The gardener Zebedee identifies the flower as the very rare Fly-by-Night (also known as The Witch's Flower) it's so rare that it only blooms every seven years in one part of the forest.

When the flower buds are squeezed a sticky goo comes out and Mary and Tib the black cat are whisked off on the broomstick to a far away land called Endor. The flower allows Mary to become a witch.

Endor College is like a weird and wonderful, colourful Hogwarts, it's a school of magic run by Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee - voiced by Winslet and Broadbent.

After being told she is actually a very well accomplished witch, Mary is told to enrol at the college and heads back home. When her friend Peter mysteriously disappears, Mary knows that she has to head back to Endor to save her friend.

We won't spoil the plot any further other than to say it involves a big rescue mission!

A big thumbs up from my three who are 12, 10 and 6!

Mary and the Witch's Flower is in cinemas in the UK and Ireland from Friday, May 4th, 2018 and is rated PG.

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