Movie ReviewsThe Wild Life Early Review

Keith NoakesSeptember 3, 2016

Times are good for Mak the parrot (David Howard), Scrubby the goat (Joey Camen), Carmello the chameleon (Colin Metzger) and the rest of the wildlife that inhabit a tropical island. Their day-to-day routine gets shaken up when a mysterious creature washes up on shore. He’s a sailor named Robinson Crusoe (Yuri Lowenthal), and he’s the only human survivor of a terrible storm that destroyed his ship. As the animals get to know their peculiar new guest, they find him to be a useful ally when two conniving cats named May (Debi Tinsley) and Mal (Kyle Hebert) try to seize control of their exotic paradise.

Have you had that moment when you see a trailer that wasn’t the most appealing and thought that maybe the film would be better? This was one of those times, for me at least. The animation was okay and the humor was what one would expect for a kids film, funny enough for kids but probably not others. After having watched the film, consider these suspicions confirmed. Some allure may come from the fact that this kind of is a Robinson Crusoe story (and the film is called Robinson Crusoe in other countries). Whether or not it’s an accurate one, remember that it is a story told from the perspective of the animals.

In a film that was supposedly about Crusoe, it felt like it was more about the animals. The story was told from the perspective of the animals and narrated by a parrot named Mak (Howard). The film starts with Crusoe (Lowenthal) being rescued and embellishing his story because of its unbelievability (for obvious reasons). Mak cuts him off and tells us what really happened with Crusoe’s ship being destroyed and him eventually washing up on shore. This is the first big chance for Mak, who’s always wondered about whatever was beyond his island, to finally learn about what is out there.

The rest of the film occurred in a rather predictable and unexciting way. Crusoe’s relative inexperience when it came to being on a ship or even being on his own was contrasted with the fact that the animals have never seen a human before. Most of the film’s humor came from this and didn’t quite work. Of course this didn’t last forever as both sides began to learn more about each other. This led to them working together in order to help Crusoe survive. Their relationship was a benefit to both sides as they managed to construct some ingenious contraptions that defy imagination (it’s a kids film so it doesn’t have to be the most realistic).

Meanwhile this was happening, the group faced opposition from a pair of cats named May (Tinsley) and Mal (Hebert) who held a grudge against Crusoe. The evil cats were a little too much here and were relied on too much to advance the plot. They did, however, play a part in the only interesting moment of the film as they were involved in a quasi-entertaining battle sequence. The big problem with that the cats was that along with other animal were very unimaginative characters. For some reason, they managed to be both dull and annoying.

This was mainly because of the terrible voice acting from the whole cast. It all just sounded very amateurish which made the film less engaging. This originally was a Belgian film that was redubbed in English so you can’t help but imagine what it would have sounded like (assuming you can understand Belgian). Maybe the script was lost in translation too since the one we got here was not that great either as the story was bland and the dialogue was bad, bordering on cheesy. Voice acting can sometimes make up for this but in this case, it just emphasized it.

While the story may be lacking, it was still decent to look at as the animation was surprisingly good here. No this wasn’t Disney, nor Pixar, nor Dreamworks but it was still pretty good considering that it came from a little Belgian studio. The film was full of color and there was a great amount of detail in the animal characters. The human character models needed a little more work though.

Overall, this was a passable animated film with dull characters, a dull, unoriginal story, and terrible voice acting.

Score: 5/10

If you liked this, please read my other reviews here and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, follow me on Instagram, and also like me on Facebook.

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