Reviewed by: John Decker
|Featuring:||Jason Sudeikis … Bomba (voice)
Steven Tyler … Nim Galuu (voice)
Amanda Seyfried … Mary Katherine (voice)
Pitbull … Bufo (voice)
Beyoncé Knowles … Queen Tara (voice)
Josh Hutcherson … Nod (voice)
Judah Friedlander … Larry (voice)
Colin Farrell … Ronin (voice)
Aziz Ansari … Mub (voice)
Blake Anderson … Dagda (voice)
Christoph Waltz … Mandrake (voice)
Chris O'Dowd … Grub (voice)
Emma Kenney … (voice)
Jason Harris … (voice)
|Director:||Chris Wedge—“Ice Age,” “Age: The Meltdown,” “Robots”|
|Producer:||Twentieth Century Fox Animation
Blue Sky Studios
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“Discover a world from the creators of ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Rio’”
It is possible to atrophy your discernment engine after observing too many hyped up environmental messages intended to inculcate youth into “go-green” mentality. I do hope to not lose sight of that engine so that I may point out the indoctrination to potential onlookers. I also hope not to miss value where commendation is due. We are, after-all swimming in green stuff, these days. Other than “The Hobbit,” when’s the last time you saw a cartoon or any children’s film for that matter, that wasn’t oriented around some green/animal-lover/environmental theme? I am not enough of an expert on the history of animation to say where it started. “Fern Gully” comes to mind. Salt that with some Peter Pan and pepper it with “Pocahontas,” add some impressive up-to-date visual effects and very high quality audio engineering—you’d hardly have to bake it—and it would be “epic”, lower case.
I’m dizzy with repetition, with typicality in story, and this story’s got it. Minus my criticisms and musings this film has a story line with no heartbeat, more a bump on a log. This flat contour is what you get sometimes when you’re preaching a sermon; in this case, the sermon is enviro-gospel—the bad news of the forest that we must save. Void of content—it preaches a pulpit-free, faceless message, proclaiming “feeling over knowledge” (their words, not mine) wrapped in “Avatar” like graphics—a second cousin on its mother Earth side, I believe.
So “nicey” is the sword fighting as to be appropriate for the youngest ones. The dialog is equally flat—but it must be, because children cannot be indoctrinated on images alone. The movie does have a lot of death imagery, due to this battle against he who would destroy Mother Nature, but it is still fairly gentle. Ninety-five percent of it is guaranteed not to scare the littlest ones—there is one part where a living bird turns to skeleton, potentially disturbing, but it passes quickly. Circling bats, skulls of dead animals—those are your potentially frightening images. They are not on the level that would stir apprehension for parents with children over seven, in my opinion.
This movie has a goddess upon whom the entire forest relies, her spirituality is Earthly, relating to what grows things, to life. Who doesn’t like life over death? For other content: Who won’t take a mended relationship over a stifled one? We have the chivalry of a handsome helping hand, contrasted with a dopey hero who mostly happens upon success like a drunk falling on a large pile of cash. [Side thought: How often are our heroes “the dopey and yet fortunate” these days?] We have a sassy but kind, misunderstood teenage girl—and mother is gone from the picture, which follows yet another typicality that goes something like this—“you cannot learn life until the parents are moved out of the way.” Ring a bell?
(The following is entirely tongue in cheek.) This film got the father right. I mean, he’s nerdy and much to be disrespected, but he’s right in the end. Who wouldn’t want that? A “right” father in a Hollywood movie? And what’s he right about? Oh yes—he’s right about the battle for the forest. He’s right about spending his life chasing all that is good and green. Father was removed from the main character’s life long before the film began. He comes back. I believe the father represents something other than himself. His presence is thin and his character is put to good green use. Family as a topic is somewhat lifted up, it’s apparent that mother has died, and there is some mending to take place. Yes, family is somewhat lifted up, in a rather twisted way, with little to no presence of the father until now and the death of mother. When will we as Christians learn that our message, without the whole message, is not the message at all? Family is a worthy topic, but yours truly is not fooled by the placating.
In the end, this movie has some entertainment value. It’s colorful; some of the graphics on the water are very advanced and quite pretty. There is nothing very violent or disturbing among the battles, which is respectable for a children’s film. There is no foul language of any sort. There is a romantic kiss among the unmarried, it is short and sweet. There is nothing lewd, little to nothing even bordering on crude; it’s very clean. It is lightly humorous. It is not, overall, visually stunning, but has some nice visuals to offer.
Lastly, and comprehensively speaking, the strongest underlying characteristic, the most drawing or intriguing aspect of the film is its environmental message—full of goddesses and little green men. My opinion, for those young enough to enjoy its simple entertainment value—I would not expose them to it due to its environmental indoctrinations, for those old enough to see through the indoctrinations, most of the entertainment value is masked in simple, childish fairy-tale with an unfulfilling plot.
Violence: Moderate to heavy (for genre) / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
FOR KIDS—What is man’s responsibility to the environment? Answer
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.