Review: Adventures in Zambezia / Cert: U / Director: Wayne Thornley / Screenplay: Andrew Cook, Raffaella Delle Donne / Starring: Jeremy Suarez, Abigail Breslin, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum / Release Date: Out now
We suspect this South Africa-grown animation passed you by, as it didn’t get to grace the cinemas of too many English-speaking countries and certainly not this one. In fact, we’re not totally certain why the UK title is Adventures in Zambezia when it was just Zambezia everywhere else, but that’s what it says on the cover so we’re not going to argue. Anyway, this lack of a UK release is a bit puzzling because what we have here is a something of a gem of a kids’ movie.
It tells the story of Kai (Suarez), a young falcon living on the African plains somewhere near the Victoria Falls. His father (Jackson) has a mysterious past and tries to discourage Kai from searching for the bird city of Zambezia... Blimey, that sounds intriguing. It’s fairly low-budget but the CGI is pretty good and used to tremendously good effect in the high speed flying scenes. In fact, in some parts of the world you could have seen this in 3D and we bet it was bloody great. The story is simple, but for a children’s film that’s fair enough and it’s still quite compelling. To be perfectly honest, it’s far better when it’s set on the “realistic” plains (it’s even quite educational) than when the story moves to the Bird City with its avian airport, hairdressers and monkey butlers. OK, it hasn’t got monkey butlers (because they’re birds, obviously) but you get the idea. The city’s patriarch is none other than Leonard Nimoy (in bird form) which is presumably how this ended up on the Starburst review pile, and there’s even some nice comic turns from Jeff Goldblum and everyone’s favourite southern African, Richard E. Grant. The climax is visually impressive and genuinely quite exciting and in the end, everyone has grown as a person (or a bird). So all family movie values are present and correct even if it is surprising brutal in places; it’s got Samuel L. Jackson in it so what did you expect? Apparently it’s his first U-rated movie, fact fans.
But at the end of the day, this reviewer doesn’t like reviewing kids’ movies without asking a proper kid what they think, so we did. He said, “It was very good and I liked the bit when he flew into the giraffe’s bum.” So there we have it; everyone’s happy. Not a bad movie at all and almost certainly Leonard Nimoy’s best film since the one with the whales.
Extras: 4 Featurettes / “Come Fly with Me” music video