Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Eddie Izzard, Jim Belushi
Director: Steve Williams
Running Time: 82 mins
The Wild is an American film about a young lion who is accidentally taken away from his home in New York Central Park Zoo and sent to the wild in Africa. To save him, his father, along with a group of other zany zoo animals, break free from the zoo and set off in hot pursuit into a world of unknowns.
It’s not one hundred percent identical, but this is basically just Madagascar. Although differing in plot focus in the final act, The Wild is insanely similar to the Dreamworks movie that came out just under a year before, and what’s worse is that it’s nowhere near as good. With sub-par comedy, underwhelming performances, pretty poor animation and a relatively uninteresting story, there was very little keeping me interested in The Wild, other than being shocked at how similar it is to Madagascar.
Now, why is that the case? There have been all sorts of talking animal kids’ movies over the years, most of which revolve around them leaving their normal life and getting into all sorts of trouble. However, The Wild goes further to be full of some of the exact same characters, settings and sequences as Madagascar.
The lead character is a lion (like Alex), who teams up with a giraffe (like Melman) and a couple of other different animals, a koala, a squirrel and a snake on his escape. Whilst the focus of the journey here is to save his son, having been whisked away, it makes for some of the exact same hijinks as Madagascar, but without the same comedic effect. Along with that, the film starts off in the Central Park Zoo, follows the animals as they initially wander around New York City before getting on a boat into the middle of the ocean before eventually ending up in Africa… Anyway, you get the picture, this film is seriously similar to Madagascar.
Now, the reason that I do enjoy Madagascar a lot is simply down to its comedy. It’s fast-paced, witty, light-hearted and pretty zany right the way through, so I was at least expecting The Wild to pick that up and do it just as well.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Firstly, without the energetic performances from the likes of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and more that helped to make Madagascar so memorable, and instead a collection of seemingly phoned-in performances from a few A-listers, there’s no real comedic energy to this movie, with the characters seemingly spewing out scripted gags every now and then, offering very little to really make you chuckle.
In effect, The Wild feels a lot more oriented to just a children’s audience than anything wider. There are gags in there for parents, but in general, it has nothing on the brand of comedy from Madagascar that can make people of all ages laugh away for an hour and a half, so it’s a pretty dull watch for anyone over the age of 10.
Another issue I found with this movie was the animation. Although technically, it’s a little more realistic-looking than Madagascar, with better quality fur effects and such, but the animation style of this film really is pretty boring. Looking like a video game cutscene for the majority, and not pulling off any zany atmosphere like the likes of Madagascar or Hoodwinked to make that work, this really felt like a very sub-par film from an enormous studio like Disney, with no inspiring or even moderately entertaining visuals to let you have some fun.
The one way in which this film is different to Madagascar comes in the final act of its plot. Although ending up with a relatively similar conclusion, the finale is a little less chaotic and more personal, centring around the lion’s desperate attempts to get his son back, all the while keeping his friends safe and learning more about himself. That said, it’s a finale that focuses on pretty dull characters that haven’t grabbed you since the start, and that means it’s just not a satisfying conclusion to the movie, even if it isn’t quite as good as Madagascar.
There are always films that seem a lot like others, but The Wild takes it to another level. Given that the two films are so similar, it’s fair to compare it with Madagascar, because it’s evident that this concept and story can be pulled off in an entertaining and memorable way, but The Wild just doesn’t manage that. With poor comedy, uninspiring performances, a dull story and underwhelming animation, you’d better just watch Madagascar again, and that’s why I’m giving this a 5.4 overall.