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More Fluff than Substance

  • Sep 5, 2010

The talking-animal genre of the computer-generated animation scene is more than a staple, it’s an empire.  And while names like Open Season, Over the Hedge, and Madagascar have earned their fair share of attention, don’t count Disney out when it comes to the concept of realizing a potential market.

At 94-minutes, The Wild is actually one of the lengthier animated features on the market.  The plot, while in no danger of being mistaken for a masterpiece, goes something like this:

Set in the NY City zoo, we meet Ryan is a young lion who wishes for little more than to go to the wild, where his father (Samson) once roamed. When he manages to get himself shipped to Africa, his distraught father and a ragtag group of zoo refugees work together to track him down and bring him back.

Once the group reaches Africa, however, the animals find themselves in a world of real danger; the type only hinted of in stories and legends while in captivity. Add to the fact that a wildebeest cult leader named Kazar sees the coming of the felines as a sign from the powers-that-be and a volcano that's on the edge of eruption and the wild offers a lot more risks than these caged-critters bargained for.

The Wild is a prime example of the simple fact that limitless budgets and a powerhouse brand name/ distribution network do not a good film make.  This is especially evident when you stop to consider the fact that when this film was being developed, Disney was amidst heated negotiations with Pixar, the likes of which had Pixar going as far as attempting to sever the relationship entirely.  The Diz was clearly doing all they could to prove that they still had a presence in the booming computer-animated feature arena (without Pixar if need be) while taking aim at Dreamworks’ blockbuster Madagascar in the process.

What results is a pretty lackluster movie with all of the theoretical ingredients of a masterpiece (a decent cast, nice textures and animation, catchy theme songs and so on) but a finished product that comes up feeling dull and heartless.

Kids may find some value in the visuals and the few moments of slapstick surely included to get a rise, but it’s difficult to avoid the reality that the plot struggles to find it’s rhythm and fails to generate much enthusiasm in the few instances where it does.

In conclusion The Wild is a bit too dry and cumbersome for young children to enjoy and definitely too blasé to attract and hold the interest of the adults who will certainly be in the vicinity of the children the film is targeted toward.  The pieces are all there but turning them into a complete puzzle is where Disney comes up short on this one.

More Fluff than Substance More Fluff than Substance More Fluff than Substance

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September 05, 2010
Yeah this one could have been better but hey it isn't horrible, great review once again.
September 05, 2010
I wanted for it to be the next Madagascar so badly that I think my disappointment for what's actually contained here was compounded in a way. But thanks again for the feedback bud.
September 05, 2010
hm. this almost sounds like a rehash of Madagascar. I think I saw bits and pieces of this on cable. It was alright at times, but not too impressive. Nice review!
September 05, 2010
Thank you William! I'm going to try to spend the next few days pumping out reviews on all of the animation I've been taking in of late. And yes, I will gladly build a top 10 anime list as well.
More The Wild reviews
review by . November 01, 2008
Chorus:   A little Madagascar   A little Lion King   A little Finding Nemo   Not enough of anything     Lion, Giraffe, Koala, Snake   A squirrel they call Benny   I asked my son which one he liked   He said to me "Not any!"     Escaping from the NY Zoo   Inside a garbage truck   I begged my son to watch this one   But sad to say - no luck     Repeat …
review by . January 24, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
In THE WILD, Ryan (Greg Cipes) is a young lion who lives in a New York City zoo with his father Samson (Keifer Sutherland). Fueled by stories of his father's adventurous youth, Ryan yearns to leave the zoo and travel to the wild to live the way his father lived. The trouble is that Samson is a creature born in captivity and only told Ryan those stories to keep him interested and make him proud of Dad. After a bitter dispute between father and son and purposefully disobedience, Ryan finds himself …
review by . December 09, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
It is hard to criticize Disney's animated feature 'The Wild'. With so few G rated movies about, I would hate to even touch such a film. Nevertheless, 'The Wild' is a worthy adventure with a few entertaining moments that accentuate many elements of familiar film territory.     Ryan is a cub lion who suffers from an inferiority complex. He has yet to reach adolescence and his roar is just one notch above a kitten. His father, Samson, shares stories of his glory days with yarns …
review by . October 17, 2006
I really enjoyed "The Wild," but I watched it feeling as if something was missing. It lacked the magic that I've come to expect in Disney's theatrical releases. Unlike "The Lion King" and "Cinderella," it lacked the "epic" aspect. Where "Hercules" and "The Emperor's New Groove" were laugh-out-loud funny, "The Wild" came across as a lukewarm comedy. It has a wonderful cast of voices including Kiefer Sutherland (who has the warm, fatherly voice downpat), Jim Belushi, Eddie Izzard (who almost steals …
review by . September 19, 2006
I wanted to see this movie since the day it came out but lost the chance like some others. I wanted to see it for Eddie Izzard and for the fact that Madagascar stole their idea and got their film out first. How is this film going to be any different from Madagascar? Disney and Dream Works are in direct competition. The Wild was in production for quite sometime due to the fallout of Pixar and the discovery of a new animation team to finish the film. It just so happens that Madagascar was rushed and …
About the reviewer

Ranked #14
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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About this movie


A cuddly koala who wants to be fierce, a squirrel in love with a sarcastic giraffe, an addle-pated anaconda, and a lion with a secret set off from their cozy zoo to rescue the lion's adolescent cub from an accidental kidnapping. After braving the dangers of the big city and stealing a boat, they find themselves in the African jungle, where a renegade herd of wildebeest have decided they want to change their position on the food chain (understandable, really).The Wildis hodgepodge--it's never clear why these mismatched creatures are friends and plot elements seem haphazardly plucked fromFinding Nemo,Madagascar, andIce Age: The Meltdown(though the latter two were made at the same time asThe Wild, so it's just unfortunate for this movie that they came out first). Despite a general air of manic desperation,The Wilddoes have its strengths: The animation is richly realistic, leading to some gorgeous depictions of light (not exactly a selling point for kids, but adults can appreciate it). Several characters pop out--a pair of sewer crocodiles sound like NPR's Car Talk guys; William Shatner (Star Trek,Boston Legal) is effectively scary as the cult-leader/choreographer of the wildebeest; and comedian Eddie Izzard lends some of his trademark smart and silly humor to Nigel, the disgruntled koala bear. Successful bits and pieces don't make for a great movie, but they keepThe Wildfrom the brink of disaster.--Bret Fetzer
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