The Wild

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Samson the lion (Sutherland) is head honcho at his home at the New York City zoo, but when his son is accidentally shipped off to Africa, he and his friends (a giraffe, an anaconda, a koala and a squirrel) set off in pursuit. However, Samson has a s


Like buses, shoes and Geordie TV presenters, CG-critter movies often come in pairs. Two ant movies, two fish movies… and now we have two films about animals from the Central Park zoo going to Africa. Coming second must have helped Disney’s The Wild, though, as it’s marginally better than last year’s Madagascar, with a better (if less starry) cast voicing a set of characters who are more rounded, each granted their own moment of screen glory.

You wouldn’t guess this from the first act, though. Despite starting well with a lion’s bedtime story about a hunt for wildebeest that references The Lion King, the opening zoo scenes are lacklustre, full of beautifully animated characters doing little against inexcusably flat backgrounds.

Things improve immeasurably when our heroes travel to Africa — it’s as if the writers suddenly woke up. Samson (Kiefer Sutherland) gets in touch with his wild side; Nigel the koala (Eddie Izzard) suddenly becomes funny; William Shatner voices a wildebeest prophet with a demented plan to move his herd to the top of the food chain; and a pair of secret-agent chameleons supply the best gags in the final ten minutes. It’s a late rally, but strong enough to survive even the ill-advised last-minute dance routine...

The Wild roars back from a rocky opening act to a storming last reel, just managing to claw its way above comparisons with Madagascar.