Movies: The Wild

When my son found this DVD at the library, my first thought was “ripoff of Madagascar.” But I agreed to check it out and watch it with him. (I later read that Disney was working on the idea first, Madagascar just got released first. (I can’t help wondering just how they both came to be working on the same idea at the same time, and both used a lion and a giraffe as two of the main characters.)

It’s interesting to compare what two different movie studios did with the idea of a group of zoo animals escaping from a New York zoo to go to the wild. It’s also interesting to see what other people thought of how the two compare. There are people who think The Wild is wonderful and Madagascar stinks. And of course there are people who think The Wild is lame and Madagascar is great.

On the whole, I’m with the latter group. There were aspects of the Madagascar that I didn’t enjoy all that much, but on the whole I thought it was funny and well done. I really enjoyed the way the four main characters were developed and how they interacted with each other.

As I watched The Wild, I wondered if I were just in a critical mood, because the whole things seemed to fall flat. As one user review at imdb.com put it, the movie is soulless. A movie about a dad trying to find his son should pull at one’s heartstrings, as Finding Nemo did. But this movie felt so far short in that regard that I didn’t even think of that comparison until reading it in other people’s comments.

Admittedly, the animation is superb. The animals and the environment are much more realistic than in Madagascar. But so what? Since when do animated movies need realism? The realism enhances a good movie, but it doesn’t save a poor one.

I suppose a lot of it has to do with one’s sense of humor. For some people, the humor in Madagascar is crude, or simply not funny. For me, the humor in The Wild is so weak that I barely smiled.

I did like the part with the chameleons, though. That is definitely original, and incorporated very cleverly into the storyline.



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