It’s hard to hate a kid’s movie unless it’s intentionally offensive to intelligence and repugnant to the most basic noble principles that society has adopted. BABY GENIUSES, AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER and any direct-to-DVD come to mind. Luckily, SPARK: A SPACE TAIL doesn’t sink to those abysmal levels and finds itself in a morally higher, but still creatively weak category of unimaginative, cheap children’s movies that are mere distractions. The benefit is that it doesn’t cause any general harm to watchers, unless of course they’re a mentally functional adult.
The title character, Spark (Norman), is unknowing of his past, much like Luke Skywalker, containing a great level of strength and royal lineage that we will inevitably find about. He spends his days monkeying around (no pun intended) on a fractured chunk of the former planet, Bana. The planet was destroyed by a ruthless tyrant, who conjured up a space kraken that obliterated the worldly paradise into small floating chunks of dirt and jungle, much like Alderaan. You could say that SPARK blatantly ripped off the premise of STAR WARS. I’m willing to agree with that thesis, but only commend SPARK for never proclaiming its original or trying to hide it’s thievery.
Despite the stolen DNA, SPARK manages to find a few things that keep it from becoming too dull, like its visually eccentric backdrops and enthusiastic characters that verbally chomp at the bit. Patrick Stewart voices a space captain (and I admittedly feel guilty about admitting this) whom made me smirk a few times. Jessica Biel voices one of Spark’s companions who provides Spark’s mature direction, while everyone else seems to be feeding him silliness to react to.
The movie’s climax is action in space, on a ship, and on the remnants of Bana. It’s one of the more inspired moments of SPARK, as we watch all the one-dimensional personalities of the characters meld into a somewhat cohesive final act. It’s during this that Spark matures, and Stewart’s charm keeps Biel’s self-serious persona from overflowing the plot with unnecessary melodrama, which would have sunk even the most intelligent of children’s movies. I only mention these two because they provide the most interaction with Spark and may have been the most fleshed out characters on screen and script.
Other voices in this movie collecting a paycheck are Hilary Swank, Susan Sarandon and others. They were most likely the biggest part of the budget because of how underwhelming the computer animation is. 1995’s TOY STORY has animation that’s miles above SPARK and if you’ve ever had a small child that’s made you endure MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE, you can tell the animation is pennies on the dollar and is only meant as a cost saving move on the studio’s end.
The production company, ToonBox Entertainment, isn’t well-known, but it has one movie that falls into the category of children’s animated disaster, THE NUT JOB. It’s good to see they avoided too many easy fart jokes, which would make the most juvenile individual shake their head, as well as an avoidance of manipulating contemporary pop-culture to fit this film’s unmemorable soundtrack or an unwarranted dance number. SPARK is safe for the kids, as long as you’re not in the room. But before you pop it in, flee and let your child mindlessly enjoy the bright colors, you’ll want to remove all of the choking hazards from their vicinity.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:39:1) The animation is cheap and it comes through clearly on this blu-ray.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Sound wise, this blu-ray has no flaws.
A Creative SPARK: Voicing the Characters (3:06): This feature is about the characters and the voice talents behind them.
Bringing SPARK to Life (3:05): A wordless feature showing the various levels of production by showing images, back-to-back, from hand-drawn inception to fully realized animation.
SPARK Concept Art Reel (1:43): Another wordless feature. Not as interesting.