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Fox Home Entertainment presents
FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

Batty: Are you sure?Zak: I'm positive.Batty: Only fools are positive.Zak: Are you sure?Batty: I'm positive.
- Robin Williams, Jonathan Ward

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: February 11, 2002

Stars: Tim Curry, Robin Williams
Other Stars: Samantha Mathis, Christian Slater, Jonathan Ward
Director: Bill Kroyer

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: G for (some intense scenes)
Run Time: 01h:15m:53s
Release Date: February 19, 2002
UPC: 024543032977
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-BB- D

DVD Review

I first saw FernGully: The Last Rainforest at age 10, and even then, I realized how sappy it was—an appropriate description, I suppose (but I kid with the wacky tree humor, so wipe your eyes and read on). Us kids today, you see, we've become jaded, what with our MTVs and our diet sodas, and, I think, intrinsically resistant to anything obviously heavy-handed. At least, I was. But then, I was freakishly disturbed as a child, so your mileage may vary. But, what I meant to say, before my latent psychosis spewed forth onto the monitor, was that FernGully is, ultimately, little more than a feature-length animated ecology PSA (sadly, Leo the Lightning Bug does not appear, as he was in rehab throughout the shoot). The story concerns a group of fairy-type creatures that live in the rainforest (but not, as the title suggests, the last rainforest—what a rip-off), where they prance around communing with nature and marketing a line of herbal teas. These seemingly cheerful beings harbor a dark secret, however. Years ago, they lived with humans in the rainforest, until a stereotypical evil black cloud came down from the sky to burn the forest and menace the land with its creepily fey Tim Curry accent. Magi Lune, the elder, managed to trap him in a tree, where he wiled away the decades corrupting the minds of squirrels, fueling their lust for Clusters®. Many years later, Magi Lune's granddaughter, Crysta, is supposed to be learning the old ways, but she is more interested in the humans she discovers, mistaking their tagging trees for logging as "protecting them with magic red dust." Hey, no one said fairies were bright. I was pretty sure they were morons, personally, but I didn't say anything. She shrinks one of these humans, Zak, down to fairy size, and the two becomes friends. She likes when he teaches her how to say, "bodacious;" he likes it when she teaches him that carving your name in a tree is wrong because they feel pain. Sadly, the tree housing the evil Tim Curry demon gets cut down, and it's up to these two imbeciles to save the day, along with the help of Batty, a former lab animal with psychotic tendencies. Wow, how'd they explain all that on the back of the box?To use a cliché, if I may, if you looked up "subtle" in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of every movie every made, save this one. It was produced by FAI Films, which I swear must be some conservation group, because the message, loud and clear, is: humans bad, nature good. Of course, conservation is a good thing, I suppose, but dangit, those kids would sure whine if oil wasn't choking the skies over the power plant to run their GameCubes. Anyway, a socially aware "moral" is better than the disturbing slave/master relationship evident on Pokemon. The script covers pretty familiar territory, stealing much of Crysta's character from The Little Mermaid. The "hero," Zak, is an extremely dated surfer dude, sort of the human equivalent of a Ninja Turtle. Radical. Or not. But it is still entertaining, thanks to some wacky sidekicks, reliance on the Disney formula, and some creepy scenes with the villain at the finale.The voice talent is actually ok. Robin Williams provides most of the humor with his anachronistic turn as Batty, and I'd complain about the jarring pop culture references, except he's a talking bat. The same year Aladdin proved him a voice-over genius, he saved this film from being a total waste. Tim Curry channels his Darkness from Legend to become a credible villain (or at least, as credible as a cloud of goo can be... watch out, he'll get some black stuff on you, and it won't come out in the wash!). Christian Slater plays another fairy (snerk), but I'm can't really remember his character doing anything. In fact, I am questioning his inclusion in the credits.Fox Studios produced this film in the days when Disney ruled animation, and the influence is clear, even if the quality isn't up to that level. The backgrounds are pretty impressive, with deep, intricate rainforest atmosphere, but save for Batty and the villain, the character designs are pretty bland. Not that the FernGully toys were going to sell out anywhere.This is probably a pretty good choice for family viewing. At least it tries to impart some sort of positive message. Keep an eye out for the sequel, which was originally entitled "FernGully 2: The Even Laster Rainforest, We Found it Hiding Behind the Other One." They changed it to something fruity about magic.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: The original press release seemed to indicate this would be a P&S only release, but happily, both versions are actually included. The 1.85:1 image is anamorphically enhanced and looks quite pleasing, though it isn't up to the standards of recent Disney animation releases. The colors are bright enough, but they still seem somewhat dull or diffused. Some edge-enhancement is visible, as is aliasing on hard lines. Black level is fairly strong, but darker scenes do tend to show a bit of grain. This is by no means a bad presentation overall, but don't go in expecting Atlantis.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both a 5.1 and a 2.0 mix are included, and I could barely tell them apart. In both, the surrounds are mostly mute, only picking up a bit of the forest sounds for atmosphere here and there. The front soundstage takes most of the action. The 5.1 mix does anchored the dialogue more in the center, with little bleed through to the mains, for a clearer overall sound for the speech. Music fills out the mix, but isn't what I'd call enveloping. There are some panning effects, but just a few, and little in the way of directional enhancements. The climax features a bit of LFE, but nothing major. A suitable mix for the material, I suppose.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Baby's Day Out, Breaking Away, The Sandlot, The Man From Snowy River, The Pagemaster
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Trailer-palooza. In addition to the spot for FernGully (oddly in 2.35:1 widescreen) are trailers for Baby's Day Out, Breaking Away, The Sandlot, The Man from Snowy River, and Macauly Culkin's glorious animated turn in the unspeakably dumb The Pagemaster, featuring slumming cameos from Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Stewart, both, I'm sure, glad to return to Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

FernGully is pretty heavy-handed with its message, and it hasn't aged particularly well in the last 10 years, but it's still worthy entertainment for kids, if only for Robin William's performance. It's nice to revisit a time when saving the rainforest was an issue that loomed large in our minds. Really, is "Save the Earth" any less relevant a message these days? I'd say probably not.

 


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