Review: Boonie Bears: save the earth – Xiong chu mo: Chong fan di qiu (2022)

Boonie Bears: save the earth – Xiong chu mo: Chong fan di qiu (2022)

Director: Huida Lin | 97 minutes | animation, comedy | Dutch voice cast: Milan van Weelden, Andy van Veen, Rik Sinkeldam, Lynn Tackaert, Belinda Vermeer, Fred Butter, Paul Rosenboom, Carla van der Veldt, Merijn Oerlemans, Gio Borsboom

It doesn’t happen often that Chinese animation films reach Dutch cinemas or living rooms. We do know of Chinese/American or English productions, such as ‘Fei Fei en de Maan’ (2020) or ‘De Flummels’ (2021), but animated films that are made entirely in China and receive a Dutch release are easy to keep up with. The wildly popular Boonie Bears in China made their appearance in a TV series for children, and the number of films can no longer be counted on one hand. ‘Boonie Bears: save the earth’ is the first acquaintance for Dutch youth with Bramble and Briar, two bears, who try to keep the forest clean together with Vick.

For the opening scene of ‘Boonie Bears: Save the Earth’, the makers used a common concept: we see Bramble as a superhero saving the world from a large garbage monster (the eco-friendly message is over the top in the film), but it turns out to be a daydream. The reality is a lot less glorious. It’s so trite that it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the movie. Not long after, we see how Bramble struggles to do his job, but foreman Vick only sees the end result (all the barrels in which the waste is separated accidentally fall over so that the mess can be cleaned up again). The fact that Vick is so short-sighted and doesn’t acknowledge Bramble’s effort immediately makes the critical viewer think.

Then suddenly an alien entity appears in the forest. A strange metal object appears to attach itself to Brambles brain, allowing the previously somewhat stupid bear to suddenly effortlessly name the number pi, the diameter of the Earth and the distance from the Earth to Alpha Centauri in a number of light-years flying time. Owner of this item turns out to be the blue Sonic-looking cat Avi. She needs the item to find her airship, and eventually her parents. And so she needs Bramble too, but she’s not exactly friendly. Bramble is so bullied by her that Vick and Briar believe he is abusing Avi. It isn’t until well into the film that the two get what could pass for friendship. The funny thing is that Brambles intellect comes and goes, with no explanation given.

The animation is of high quality and ‘Boonie Bears: Save the Earth’ can therefore compete with major Hollywood productions, but unfortunately there is not an ounce of originality to be found, neither in the visuals nor in the story. There are so many copied ideas in the film that you can hardly blink your eyes. From the innocent-looking cat (“Puss in Boots”) to the silly bear who works in a wildlife park (“Yogi Bear”), from the hologram from “Star Wars” to the Marvel-esque opening, it’s just plain exhausting. Add to that the fact that the motivations of the characters are barely developed and sometimes incorrect (what kind of friend can you call yourself if you believe a stranger and not your best friend or brother?) and there is little left to sit through ‘Boonie Bears: Save the Earth’. Perhaps a nice pastime for the non-critical target group, but if you as a parent can choose what you serve them, there are really countless better alternatives.

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