Just in time for the weekend, here’s my review for Sammy’s Adventures: The Secret Passage, an animated feature that crops up when titles of this genre are few and sparse. These are my impressions and hopefully they’ll give you a better idea of what to expect from the black sheep of this weeks releases.
Sammy is a great film for younger kids – it’s low on violence and the action happens in short enough bursts that it will keep little minds transfixed on the plucky little turtle at all times. The film also has an educational element, following the life cycle of a turtle from birth through maturity but this element is more of a foundation for the plot than anything else. From day one, Sammy had a tough time fitting into the world, struggling to find a meaning for it all which happens to be an allegory for the human quest as well – the difference being that our fates don’t purely revolve around propagating our own species. The titular turtle and his female companion “Shelly” are separated at birth but not after making an impact on each other that ties them by fate. What follows in the life of Sammy is an endless game of catch up as he tries to find Shelly, his future mate, across planet Earth’s oceans. The problem is that Sammy is always one step behind.
Where Sammy’s Adventures differs from other films of its kind is the presence of a main antagonist or perhaps lack thereof. For Sammy, the enemy is the quest itself and hardships like sharks, climate change, and a human threat are part of said quest. The human element lacks subtlety and is quick to tell it like it is in a Green Peace style execution. Thankfully, the film doesn’t demonise us as a species and throws in a few helpful humans here and there.
Parents accompanying the little ones might also get a kick out of this film however it doesn’t have that mass appeal that companies like Pixar and DreamWorks animation have maintained with their respective titles. The voice acting isn’t particularly exciting and they’re adequate for all intents and purposes. The film is adorable but it doesn’t have the solid character work as seen in similar films such as Finding Nemo. Make no mistake, the characters are cute and charming from tiny tykes through to old age weathered but they lack the depth that develops with the journey.
Sammy doesn’t exactly benefit from a story that has been told so many times before especially considering that this tale isn’t retold quite as well. The visuals aren’t on par with today’s big hitters and it shows at times – it can be overlooked but it does detract from the experience if you’re one for cutting edge CGI. Sammy’s Adventures is presented in the third dimension but be warned, the 3D effects are often used as a forced gimmick which once again may appeal to youngsters with its bold colours and visuals but will come across as contrived and off putting for everyone else.
Sammy’s Adventure, while a solid film at heart shares a little too much with past efforts without bringing anything new to the table. It is targeted at a younger audience and it succeeds due to its cute characters, light-hearted demeanour and even throws in a little eco education as well. The qualities that make it endearing for youngsters though might not appeal to other generations – the hammy plot, questionable visuals and gimmicky 3D effects may steer mature audiences away.
The team behind Sammy’s Adventures: The Secret Passage clearly had a goal in mind when they started making this 3D animated film. The rationale was to make a movie that could be enjoyed for its educational basis of which would be the heavy lifter for characters and visuals. They got it sort of right but the self-righteous eco message it tries to relay isn’t strong enough to carry the rest of the film which blends into the woodwork amongst other high profile animation efforts.
Enjoy your weekend everyone! Interested in other releases coming out this week? Here’s a preview for what you can expect: http://inthekan.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/previews-for-19-august/