Adventures in Zambezia is the first film from South African production studio Triggerfish Animation Studios, and if this film is any indication, we should be seeing lots of great stuff from them in the future. That’s not to say that Zambezia is great. It is a solidly entertaining film, however, and impressive first outing for the small company.
Zambezia tells the story of a young falcon named Kai (voice of Jeremy Suarez) who lives a lonely life with his father Tendai (Samuel L. Jackson). One day Kai meets some other birds who are on their way to the bird city of Zambezia. Kai is excited about this new revelation, but Tendai is less than thrilled about his son going off to the big city.
In the city Kai meets a slew of new friends including the clumbsy Ezee (Jamal Mixon), the leader of the birds Chief Sekhuru (Leonard Nimoy) Sekhuru’s daughter Zoe (Abigail Breslin) and the leader of the Hurricanes (the cities defense team) Ajax (Jeff Goldblum). Yes, this film is jam-packed with a pretty solid vocal cast.
Things are great for Kai for a short time until a plot between an evil lizard Budzo (Jim Cummings) and the outcast Marabou’s leads to Tendai’s kidnapping and what could be the end of Zambezia itself. Now it’s up to Kai and his new friends to save his dad and save the day.
It’s not the most original story, you can see most the plot points before they arrive, but the story is filled out with interesting and fun characters that make it worth the ride. And while it isn’t always great, the film does manage to hit the right emotional notes when it’s important.
The film is extremely well animated for a film made outside the Hollywood system. It doesn’t quite hit Pixar levels of greatness, but it’s better than most the stuff the Dreamworks has put out recently.
Parents who watch this with their kids won’t be bored and I’m sure the kids will really enjoy it. It’s got a great message about togetherness and accepting people who are different than us, which every kid could use a little more of.
The film is presented in 1.78:1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. This is a great looking film. The sound is really well done too.
You get a couple of making of featurettes including Birds of a Feather (5 min.), An African Story (6 min.), The Tree City and Technical Challenges which discuss various aspects of the making of the film and are all pretty interesting as well as a music video for the song “Come and Fly with Me” by Jewels Jaselle and Benj Heard (4 min.).
I wasn’t expecting much from this film and I found myself pleasantly surprised. It’s not an amazing film by any stretch, but it’s sure to entertain your kids and you won’t be totally bored either. Being that this is their first feature film, I expect to see even better things from this fledgling company in the future.
Sony Pictures presents Adventures In Zambezia. Written by: Andrew Cook, Raffaella Della Donne, Anthony Silverston and Wayne Thornley. Directed by: Wayne Thornley. Starring: Jeremy Suarez, Abigail Breslin, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonard Nimoy and Jeff Goldblum. Running time: 83 minutes. Rating: G. Released: April 1, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.