The Wild Life Blu-ray Review
THE WILD LIFE is a bit of a lackluster entry in the crowded kids animated feature film field. It is somewhat based on the classic novel “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Dafoe. But it is clearly not as fun as that book and lacking the great adventure that made it a classic.
THE WILD LIFE is unique in that it is told from the animals’s perspective rather than Robison Crusoe. The narrator of the tale is Mak (David Howard Thorton), a colorful parrot who goes back in time in his telling to when Robinson Crusoe (Yuri Lowenthal) landed on his island. Crusoe was an inexperienced sailor and cartographer who was on board a ship that was searching for new islands to explore. Crusoe was not accustomed to sea life and he frequently got sea sick to the delight of his fellow seamen. Crusoe was joined on this voyage by his trusty dog Aynsley (Doug Stone). On the same vessel were two treacherous cats named Mal (Jeff Doucette) and his wife May (Debi Tinsley). They would become the villains in this story.
After a vicious tropical storm, Robinson gets trapped on his ship while the others fled by a rowboat. Robinson and Aynsley end up right off the island. Meanwhile Mak and his fellow animals were preparing for another luau. Mak had become restless on this land and knew there is more out there than constant luaus. He craved adventure and exploration. The other animals however weren’t so eager to explore and leave the island. They were content in their life. There is Rosie (Laila Berzins), the large and in charge tapir. Then you have Scrubby (Joey Carmen), an old goat that is losing his eyesight. Kiki (Lindsay Torrance) is a free spirited kingfisher. Carmello (Colin Metzger) is the ever changing chameleon. Pango (Jeff Doucette) is a pangolin and the boyfriend of Rosie. Epi (Sandy Fox) is the high pitched porcupine. Each of the animals have their various traits. Rosie is boisterous. Scrubby is a bit slow, but he loves to eat. Kiki is the skeptic of the group and takes the longest to trust Robinson.
At first the animals don’t know what to make of Robinson. They think he is a sea monster out to get them. Mak is not afraid though and he welcomes Robinson in his way to the island. Robinson calls Mak Tuesday for the day of the week he thinks it is. This of course harkens back to the novel when Robinson names a native Friday. Mal and May though have different ideas and want to take down Robinson and the other animals. There is an attack and tragedy strikes. The other animals think that Robinson is the enemy and try to bring him down only to be corrected by Mak. This starts a back and forth war between the animals and Robinson and the cats.
Robinson tries to make due on the island by building a shelter, finding clean water and bonding with the animals. The animals slowly learn to trust and welcome his friendship. The animals speak their own language during the film that they can understand. The humans though can’t understand them. Mak is a bit of a go between because he’s a parrot and can speak in the human tongue after some learning.
THE WILD LIFE has some solid computer generated animation. The characters almost seem like they can jump off the screen because they feel so alive. The bright colors do stand out. The main problem I have with the film is the story. It is just so dull and uninvolving. I wanted more adventure and more rollicking action. Sure there are the various fights they have with the cats, but it didn’t captivate me. I also wanted more humor as well. The humor is spotty and disappears for long stretches. There is also some dark material that may go over the heads of kids when watching. A lighter touch would have been more ideal.
THE WILD LIFE is a missed opportunity to spin the tale of a classic novel. The animation is good, but the story is a letdown.
Video: The bright colors really pop on the screen. It’s a very clean and clear transfer.
Audio: The sound is generally solid. I had no issues hearing what the characters had to say.
A Wild World: Making The Wild Life (9:22): The filmmakers discuss the story, voice actors, challenges of animation and the production process.
Meet the Characters (10:09): Each of the main characters is gone over by the filmmakers and the voice actors.
Tips for Your Trip (4:00): This is a somewhat silly feature about what you should do if you find yourself on a deserted island.
The Wild Life Musical Adventure (3:15): This is a quick recap of the film with some dialogue and a lot of music accompanying it.