DIRECTOR: Wayne Thornley

VOICE CAST: Abigail Breslin, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L Jackson, Leonard Nimoy, Jim Cummings, Richard E Grant.


RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes

Bright and colourful, this animated feature is set in southern Africa, around Victoria Falls to be exact.

It follows a young falcon named Kai (voiced by Jeremy Suarez), as he learns about family and community, and how to work in a group.

Kai goes exploring after arguing with his father Tendai (Jackson) one time too many, and makes his way to Zambezia, a huge community of birds living in a built environment and co-operating for the greater good.

We’re talking major ubuntu vibes here, and Kai learns a hard lesson about working in a collec-tive, which makes the storyline very un-Hollywood. So, the oh-so saccharine ending was a disap-pointing surprise.

There is no one character that stands out strongly, which means the storyline really struggles to find a focus; is it a coming-of-age story that is centred around Kai or is it about Tendai needing to learn how to let go? Or perhaps it is about the community versus the individual?

On the villainous side there is either the huge lizard with bird issues, or the marabous who behave like the hyenas from The Lion King, but nothing that’s going to haunt your sleep any time soon.

Adventures in Zambezia does not comply with animal logic, with birds using the tips of their wings to do stuff at some points, then using their claws. Also, the built environment is much too complicated for its own reality, and the animation is not always the smoothest.

The flight sequences were choppy and not helped along by the defective 3D in the preview cinema.

This brightly coloured animated feature, though, is a sweet story for kids with the narrative simple enough to follow.

Too bad there’s not much to keep parents amused. It is not one of those catch-all kind of family films with in-jokes for the adults. That said, there is a recurring joke with the ducks that is one of the few laugh-out-loud moments in the film, which is brilliant, and it is pretty sly to set up a baobab in the middle of Africa as the safest breeding spot for birds.

Africa equals safe is not something you’ve ever heard in a film before.

If you liked… Animals United… you will like this. - Tonight