Saturday, 3 September 2011

FernGully: The Last Rainforest

I have very little love for FernGully, an early 90s animation from Fox, with the likes of Rough Draft providing the actual animation, before Fox realised they really ought to go to Don Bluth if they wanted something good-looking. I didn’t see the film at the time, so the nostalgia goggles were off, and besides, Disney’s contemporary films had far, far better writing.

Without the least compunction I can say that this film was terrible. Ugly character designs poorly copied from 50s Disney, a preachy, banal and hypocritical environmentalist message, the most anticlimactic defeat of a villain ever, underdeveloped personalities and character relationships, really irritating protagonists, and the false impression of a happy and hopeful ending when what we were actually given was anything but.

The animation was poor, the inbetweening making everything wobble. Rough Draft was still a young studio, probably chosen because they offered their services extremely cheaply. The voice acting was passable, but Robin Williams – giving a remarkably similar performance to his much-lauded one as The Genie in Aladdin (released later the same year, which surprised me, as I had assumed this had been on the coattails of that performance) – was really on autopilot. Only nostalgia could make me like such a horribly manipulative and badly-thrown-together bit of claptrap. But I’d like to think even as a small child I would have found this film lazy, exploitative and dull.

At least Zak doesn’t learn in a few days to be the most skilful fairy who ever lived. That would be the last straw.

(Expanded from impressions, 7.1.09 – after I’d probably have had more to say about Cameron’s Avatar stealing the plot)

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