Review: Zambezia: The Hidden Bird City – Zambezia (2012)

Directed by: Wayne Thornley | 83 minutes | animation, adventure, family, comedy | Dutch voice cast: Nielson, Finn Poncin, Rosa Mee van de Meeberg, Arnold Gelderman, Frans Limburg, Jeannine La Rose | Original Voice Cast: Leonard Nimoy, Jeremy Suarez, Abigail Breslin, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson, Jenifer Lewis, Jim Cummings, Jamal Mixon, Richard E. Grant, David Shaughnessy, Noureen DeWulf, Tania Gunadi, Deep Roy, Phil LaMarr, Kristen Rutherford, Corey Burton, Tress MacNeille

The world of computer animation – especially that in 3D – is mainly an American occasion. The large budgets that market leaders such as Disney / Pixar and DreamWorks have at their disposal make it almost impossible for others to join the fray. Every now and then a small studio tries to stick its head above ground level. The South African Triggerfish Animation Studios, for example, which is aiming for international recognition with “Zambezia” (2012), a colorful 3D animation film that is subtitled “The hidden bird city” in the Netherlands. With a budget of “only” twenty million dollars, this is of course an unfair battle for the South Africans, but with the limited possibilities they have nevertheless delivered a very entertaining film, which certainly has plenty to offer young viewers. Parents who come to the cinema and who are used to the winks, references and witticisms from the Pixar films may well be disappointed after seeing ‘Zambezia’, because that kind of double bottom is missing in this South African production. enough.

Central to Zambezia is Kai, a young, adventurous falcon who lives in a remote African valley with his loving but strict father Tendai. Kais’s mother died when he had just hatched and since then Kai has been dependent on his father, who teaches him how to survive. There is no fun for the young falcon, much to his annoyance. Because Kai is immensely bored. Until one day a lanky big bird passes by on its way to Zambezia, a mythical bird city where all kinds of birds live together and where there is plenty of party and adventure to be had. When Kai asks his father why they don’t go to Zambezia and receives an unsatisfactory answer, he decides to investigate himself. Much to the worry of his father, who desperately tries to find him but gets caught up in a nefarious scheme by Budzo, a nasty iguana who eats nothing more than eggs and seems to have the marabou on his side. Kai, meanwhile, learns wise life lessons as he joins the Hurricanes, a winged elite unit assigned to protect Zambezia from evil.

As mentioned, we have been spoiled with breathtaking animations from the stables of Disney / Pixar and DreamWorks and it is actually unfair to compare “Zambezia” with the films that those studios storm the Box Office with. Seen in that light, the animations we get from Triggerfish are not that bad at all. The colorful nature of southern Africa is heavily exploited with a colorful collection of birds and rich landscape shots. Not spectacular, but very solid. Also thematically, South Africa’s nickname “Rainbow Nation” is fully underlined, with the message that – regardless of the differences – you will get further in life when you work together. It is quite there, but that will certainly not disturb the main target group (young children). “Zambezia” is nowhere really surprising. The film “borrows” inspiration from other animation productions and overlaps with “Rio” (2011) and “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga” Hoole “(2010), among others. Is that bad? Not when you consider that there are more people copied from each other in the world of (computer) animation film.

Hollywood stars like Samuel L. Jackson, Abigail Breslin, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum and Richard E. Grant were roped into the voice cast for the international version of “Zambezia”. In our country, only the dubbed version will be in circulation. This performance was voiced by singer-songwriter Nielson, Finn Poncin and Arnold Geldermans, among others. “Zambezia” is not an artistic tour de force and there is also enough storytelling to be noted about it. But the colorful bird parade and the exciting adventures of the young Kai will undoubtedly fascinate the little ones beyond measure.

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