By Troy Ribeiro/IANS
This animated film in 2D and 3D versions from South Africa is at par with any other such from Hollywood. It is innocently and delightfully mesmerising. It is also colourful and lively with a birdy - entertainment.
The film begins with Kai (Jeremy Suarez) a young, enthusiastic and lonely falcon living in the barren Katungu desert of Africa questioning his reclusive father, Tendai (Samuel J. Jackson), "Is living all about surviving?” when his father was training him to be the fastest lizard grabber.
Just like Jonathan Livingston, the Seagull from Richard Bach's novella, Kai, pushes himself to perfection and at the same time is looking for company, to live in a society.
It's by chance that Kai hears about Zambezia, the famed tree city of birds situated on the banks of Victoria Falls, from Gogo (Jennifer Lewis), the old saddle billed stork who ferries young birds and orphan eggs from elsewhere to Zambezia.
Enthralled with what he hears, Kai ventures to Zambezia against his father's wishes because he believes that "No friends means no Life" and he wants to live life on his terms.
Once there, he befriends, Ezee (Jamal Mixon), Zoe (Abigail Breslin) the spirited Kite, Sekhuru (Leonard Nimoy) the mentor and father figure of all Zambezians and the rest of the Zambezian civilization. He learns about the elite Hurricanes, the truth of his origins and how to be part of this community.
He integrates himself by being a part of the rescue team that protects Zambezia from the scavenging Marabous and Budzo (Jim Cummings), the oversized iguana lizard.
The plot of the film is simple and uncomplicated. Interspersed with little lessons of bonding and survival, everything used in creation of this animated world has been sourced from the natural surroundings found in the Zambezi River Valley like - the Peregrine falcons, the Nightjars, the iguana, storks, weaver birds etc.
Written by a group of writers, the film is headed by Director Wayne Thornley. In his maiden directorial venture, he has done a commendable job. The script flows smoothly. The quirky dialogues are witty and never over the top.
There is no slapstick comedy that could entice the younger audience, but scenes like; Ezee at the massage parlour or when the birds at the salon are getting a makeover with powder shower puffs are humorous.
Visually the computer generated animated images are marvellous. The animals are perfectly anthropomorphized. The animators have painstakingly ensured that the swishing of the plumes and the facial expressions sync well with emotions.
There are plenty of ogling images with a vast array of colours that would mesmerize you. For instance, the magnificence of the imposing Victoria Falls, the location and the layout of the Zambezia city itself, the spectacular sunsets and a diverse mix of birds is something that you would treasure.
Music Director Bruce Retief's background score is lively and foot tapping. The lyrics are unpretentious and patriotic especially the song "A wind of change will blow across this nation."
This film is an amalgamation of South African spirit and Hollywood subtlety. Targeted at kids between 5 to 10 years of age, parents too would find the film fascinating.
The film is refreshingly delightful.