Later Captain Planet and the Planetaries tried to make environmental awareness cool nearly two years earlier, it was time to inform the masses and bring the plight of rainforests to the big screen. The film was an attempt to get kids to care about nature, spread a message, and make an animated feature based on the bedtime stories Diana Young told her kids in the ’70s. It took a long time to get here, but even thirty years later, most can still remember the magic of FernGully: The Last Rainforest.
FernGully it’s about a particular rainforest in Australia, even if no one in the film has a proper local accent, and the creatures that live in it. The main character, Crysta (Samantha Mathis), is a fairy who lives with others of her kind and her animal friends. Her home is soon threatened by a machine cutting down trees and an ancient villain named Hexxus, but before all that, the audience must meet Zak, a young lumberjack who accidentally shrinks and meets the forest dwellers. seeing the magic firsthand from him. It’s a solid setup for a 76 minute long animated feature, just add a couple of memorable characters and some decent songs – an instant classic. Okay, we won’t go that far. FernGully it’s good, but not great. The most interesting parts are the ones that people forgot, hadn’t seen when they were younger, or didn’t know about the production of it.
This is a film that would not have been possible without the success of The little Mermaid helping rekindle the love of animation and securing its place on the big screen. It is noteworthy that the 1989 hit was a Disney movie, considering the problems FernGully had with the largest studio. Bill Kroyer, the project’s director, and Jim Cox, its writer, were both Disney veterans and managed to attract several young artists under the nose of Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was the head of Disney’s animation division. This was after a deceptive tour of the studio while he was wearing someone else’s name tag.
Not surprisingly, Katzenberg was not pleased and went on to outbid Kroyer Films for two of their potential office space locations. He also tried to talk actor Robin Williams out of participating. FernGullysince I was doing a little movie for them called Aladdin in the same year. However, Williams refused to listen to the argument, and the smaller studio was eventually set up in an old local brewery.
FernGully it was not going to be able to compete with Disney on the same level. Even though animation was coming back into the spotlight, it was still hard to get the general public to watch most features in the genre that didn’t have the Disney name attached. The work would have to speak for itself, and that meant the presentation had to be fantastic. Kroyer was willing to go to any lengths to make that happen, and he was already looking to blend CGI and traditional art before many embraced the method.
The team spent seven weeks exploring Australia’s rainforests while the animators drew sketches and created the environments for the film based on the actual locations, opting not to make a more invented enhanced version for this part of nature. They were particularly inspired by glowing mushrooms, which helped bring their vision to life. This attention to detail ensured that most viewers found the visuals incredibly enjoyable.
Then it all came down to characters and voices. The designs themselves were great in most places, like Crysta with her expressive performance, Goanna, the colorful monitor lizard, and the delightfully evil villain, Hexxus, who had to be toned down to make sure he didn’t horrify the kids. . However, other characters are considered to be a bit boring and underused, where it seems some are simply there for cameos, like Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong as the Beetle Boys, or don’t get a chance for a full story arc. as Pips (Christian Slater).
Fortunately, the voice acting is decent here with most of the cast, but it really stands out in a few places. Many viewers will remember the character of Batty Koda, a lab experiment who had been caught off guard one too many times, brought to life by the manic mayhem that was Robin Williams in his first animated role. Some may find this performance less refined and a bit annoying, but there’s no lack of power. He’s not just wacko, Batty raps too! Although Batty’s role was originally supposed to be smaller, Williams’ work was incredibly appreciated and he reportedly shot nearly 14 hours of material for the film.
Time Curry is also excellent as Hexxus, giving the baddie some range and performing his memorable song, “Toxic Love,” rated pretty high as villains for many kids who saw this one in theaters. In fact, the only character that doesn’t work for me is Zak, our human lead, played by Jonathan Ward. This actor is mostly known for Charles in charge as well as mac and me, but whether it’s his acting or the dialogue, little charm or emotion shines through the lines. It feels like one of the small bumps in the road for this to be a much better movie and makes many wonder if there needs to be a human element to the main cast.
The music also adds something extra, even if it’s not immediately recognizable. In addition to the two cases mentioned above, there is also a song called “If I’m Gonna Eat Somebody (It Might As Well Be You)”, performed by Tone Loc, gracing us with his beautiful baritone voice, which contains lyrics written by Jimmy . Buffet. There are other pieces performed by Sheena Easton, Raffi and Elton John, all backed by an excellent score by Alan Silvestri. It’s a varied soundtrack that helps elevate the movie on some points and if anyone finds them groan-worthy, most of these numbers are over relatively quickly.
The weird plot bits and pacing issues stand out a bit more now seeing it years later. Hexxus and Leveler create a solid conflict, but that’s when everyone remembers that there was a doomsday device installed in their house. However, he credits the movie for an ending that still holds up decently and doesn’t allow Zak to stay in this new utopia with the girl he was falling for.
FernGully it also has a weird sexual vibe, showing Zak and Crysta falling in love quickly, while Pips gets jealous. There’s also the weird blue hand scene that many interpret as some kind of forest or spirit sex, though Zak had to hide the humans’ intentions to give himself more time to score. In the songs, Tone Loc performs an anthem about eating someone out in a sensual way, while Hexxus uses the word “hot” in his big ballad, and as soon as Zak returns to his world, Crysta seems to be flirting with Pips again. .
In a less subtle message, many of the lines make direct reference to the destruction humans cause, the damage they cause, and how these acts have harmed nature and the planet as a whole. In some ways, this feels more forgivable because most of it serves the plot, especially the sub-issue of Batty’s animal testing. But even though producer Wayne Young said he wanted to be brash and not preachy, he certainly feels that way at various points. FernGully it was even shown at the UN General Assembly in 1992 on Earth Day, in case the environmental message it shone wasn’t clear.
FernGully is a movie that many fans still remember, even if most people never played the PC game, which is just a computerized coloring book, or saw the 1998 sequel, FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue, which was released as a direct-to-video follow-up without Zak or any of the original voice actors. The film came up in conversation and was also compared to James Cameron’s. Avatareven if it’s in jest. Still, years later, there are many who remember the movie that tried to inspire children to make a difference, that wanted to stand up and take a place next to Disney, and that tried to show us all a little magic in the world.