Each week FILMCLUB will be bringing you reviews of the latest and classic DVD releases that feature on the charity’s 4,000 strong catalogue.
And so you know exactly whether you’ll like it or not, the reviews come from kids just like you!
Below you can read the review of the classic cartoon FernGully – The Last Rainforest by FILMCLUB member Mark Flood aged 13 from St Ninian’s High School in Glasgow.
Dark in places, but high-spirited and fun-loving in others, FernGully – The Last Rainforest (let’s just call it FernGully from now on!) is a good animated film with a good voice cast for the time when it wasn’t considered normal or important to have an impressive voice cast in a cartoon.
In 1992, the same year as this film was released, Disney’s Aladdin was released with the voice of Robin Williams (who coincidentally also stars in this one, which came out first, and it was advertised on the strength of having this star do a voiceover). This caused a major change in the animation business, causing animation producers and directors to realise how much their cartoons would benefit from this.
But enough facts, back to FernGully.
FernGully is a seriously underrated and under-heard-of film, although unfortunately many films have decided to rip it off in the last few years, especially that good-for-nothing Avatar, but also Pocahontas and The Ant Bully.
FernGully is about an Australian (yes, the film was made in Australia) rainforest, that is habited by fairies. Humans are thought to be extinct after fighting with an evil slime creature Hexxus (Tim Curry, another famous voiceover artist here), who was imprisoned in a tree by the fairies.
But Crysta, a curious young female fairy, journeys beyond FernGully, after meeting a curiously bonkers Batty Koda, who has been experimented on by humans and has an electric antenea in his head, which constantly electrifies him. Crysta discovers humans still exist, and are destroying the rainforest.
She accidentally annoys an 18-year-old human known as Zak, who tries to catch her, unaware that a huge tree is about to fall on him. Crysta accidentally shrinks him to a fairy’s size to prevent him from being crushed. Unable to return Zak to his normal size, Zak is trapped in his shrunk body until he can meet the queen fairy and can be returned to normal size.
But as Zak, who is at first angry, sees the magic and wonders of FernGully, he vows to save it. But it may already be too late. The humans have already chopped down the tree that Hexxus was trapped in, and he takes control of the human bulldozer machine to destroy FernGully.
With no other place to go, their only chance is to stop Hexxus and save the rainforest. Will they succeed? Will Zak ever return to human size? Watch it and see!
FernGully is a truly enjoyable movie. It is like some of the Disney classics (Zak somehow reminds me of the character of Aladdin, who surprisingly made his screen debut in the same year as FernGully).
It is slightly demented in places, especially with the characters of Batty Koda and Hexxus. Christian Slater also does a good job as Pips, Crysta’s boyfriend who gets jealous and annoyed at Zak, who falls in love with Crysta, who seems to love him in return.
The animation and voice work is top notch. It struck me as a little short, but I’m not complaining. It really effectively tells a message about eco-friendliness, and also slips in a moral about animal cruelty, represented through the mentally-unstable character of Batty Koda.
There’s also some good songs in there, especially Batty Rap (sung by Williams) when Batty tells about how the humans tortured him.
An especially good and original tale, handled effectively, with great voicework, music and animation makes this a great animation. Just a shame about how many folks don’t know about it. But I guarantee you will enjoy it, if your idea of a good time is a good ol’ cartoon.
Rating: 4 out of 5
FernGully – The Last Rainforest (1992, U) is out on DVD now. Click here to buy your copy
FILMCLUB is a nationwide education charity and experts in film for young people. The initiative offers access to thousands of popular and classic films from around the world for young people and teachers to watch and discuss in their school film clubs.
Visit www.filmclub.org for more information.