out of Five
Running time: 82
Watchable animated adventure with one eye on the cuddly toy market, though you've got to love a film that casts William Shatner as a wildebeest.
What's it all about?
Essentially, The Wild is Madagascar all over again, only with a dash of Finding Nemo thrown in for good measure. Feeling inadequate because he's never lived in the wild, Ryan the lion cub (Greg Cipes) escapes from the New York Zoo and stows away to Africa, hotly pursued by his father, Samson the Lion (Kiefer Sutherland) and his friends Benny the squirrel (Jim Belushi), Nigel the koala (Eddie Izzard), Bridget the giraffe (Janeane Garofalo) and Larry the snake (Richard Kind).
The voice cast are extremely good. Kiefer Sutherland brings an air of Jack Bauer-like authority to Samson, which works well. There's also good support from Garofalo and Belushi, but the real stars of the show are William Shatner as an evil, choreography-obsessed wildebeest (a stroke of casting genius) and Eddie Izzard as the decidedly British koala with a string of surreal one-liners.
The impressive animation is entirely CGI and director Steve 'Spaz' Williams (his actual screen credit) keeps things moving at a decent pace. The script is witty and includes several good gags but Williams also includes just enough adult jokes to keep the grown-ups happy.
The plot is incredibly cliched but the characters ensure that it's never less than watchable. The only real problem is that some of the key emotional moments don't play out as well as they should and the finale feels rushed.
In short, The Wild is a lot better than last year's Madagascar and is bound to sell a lot of stuffed animals. However, if you're only going to see one animated animal movie this year, the word on the street suggests the upcoming Over the Hedge is the one to watch out for.