This animated adventure sports some serious voice talent - Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum - but never really takes off....
Sony / 83 Minutes / 2012 / Rated G / Street Date: March 26, 2013 (Wal-Mart Exclusive)
Kids will watch anything that has brightly-colored box art like Adventures in Zambezia’s, but I bet most child viewers of this animated affair will give up before it reaches its one-hour mark. It’s full of cute creatures and funny animals that do ridiculously charming things, but this Rio rip-off is bankrupt of any significant emotional or narrative push – after a few minutes in its vividly-rendered dramatic world, your little ones will be asking you to change the channel.
Part of the problem here is that Adventures in Zambezia quickly becomes far more complicated than it has any right to be. What starts as a journey taken by a kicky young falcon named Kai (Jeremy Suarez) becomes a leaden exercise in overwrought exposition. We could have had a story about a kid who feels trapped by his age – and his controlling dad (Samuel L. Jackson) – who gives his adolescent world the finger and ventures off to a mysterious magical bird sanctuary called Zambezia, but instead, we get that and fourteen other minor plot arcs that are completely unnecessary and, frankly, unwelcome.
Adventures in Zambezia desperately wants to be the latest animated movie that plays in your house non-stop, but on all fronts, it comes up short. It’s interesting to experience the movie knowing that it’s one of the biggest cinematic endeavors to ever come out of South Africa, but that kind of historical watermark is diluted by Zambezia’s narrative hollowness.