|The Wild (2006)
Starring: voices of Kiefer Sutherland, Eddie Izzard, James Belushi, Janeane Garofalo, William Shatner
Director: Steve "Spaz" Williams
“Antz” and “A Bug’s Life.” “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon.” It’s been a while since major Hollywood studios have come out with competing films that were alike in concept. Now renewing the feud, Disney releases “The Wild,” a picture so similar to Dreamworks’ “Madagascar” that it’s shocking there hasn’t been a major lawsuit involved.
Like “Madagascar,” “The Wild” begins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. Lion cub Ryan (Greg Cipes), born in the zoo, lives in the shadow of his wild-born father Samson (Kiefer Sutherland). Unable to roar ferociously, Ryan runs away and finds himself inadvertently loaded on a shipment heading to Africa. Feeling responsible, Samson sets out to find his son and bring him home, but not without the help of some oddball friends, including a giraffe, a koala, a snake and a squirrel.
Like most animated features, “The Wild” features some impressive voice talent. Along with Kiefer “Jack Bauer” Sutherland, other actors lending their voices to characters include Janeane Garafalo as Britney the Giraffe, a surprisingly funny James Belushi as Benny the Squirrel, and William Shatner as the evil Wildebeest Kazar. All put in good performances, but Eddie Izzard stands out as the hilarious Koala Nigel, who is inexplicably English and not Australian.
The similarities to “Madagascar” are too abundant to mention, but there are some differences. For one thing, the story has a little more heart. The father/son bonding story in “The Wild” is more akin to “Finding Nemo,” another Disney picture, but made by Pixar. Also, the romantic subplot between odd couple Bridget the Giraffe and Benny the Squirrel is quite humorous.
Although not a Pixar creation, “The Wild” is beautifully animated; especially in its darker moments. The effects are almost too perfect, however. The characters in the film are so lifelike that sometimes their visages lack the ability to convey a suitable amount of emotion, which ultimately hurts one’s ability to properly relate to them. But some of the effects are quite affective, specifically those of the opening dream sequence of the film, which are some of the most inspired in quite a while.
“The Wild” is a slight improvement over “Madagascar” (if only because the characters are a little less annoying), but the film still falls short of being anything other than box office filler. Although the idea of having the prey become predator (wildebeest hunting lions) is an interesting one, the basic story and characters are nothing new, and the action of the film is actually a little tedious. Kids may enjoy this as a DVD rental, however.
As is expected from a Disney release, there isn't much in the way of special features on the single-disc release of "The Wild." Of course, there are a few extras to be found, including five (unfinished) deleted scenes, aa short behind-the-scenes with Eddie Izzard, and a lame Disney music video.