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Times of India
A young falcon called Kai leaves his father and heads to a fabled city called Zambezia, set around a huge Baobab tree along the edge of the Victoria Falls that is a paradise-on-Earth for birds of all species. A coming-of age tale, the journey teaches Kai some important lessons in life.
So far this year, we've seen animated films about all kinds of creatures -racing snails, furry monsters, midget forest dwellers and various other cute creatures. So it's only fitting that there should be one about birds, as is the case with Zambezia.
Kai (Jeremy Suarez) is an ambitious and impetuous falcon who dreams of life beyond his current abode. Opportunity lands at his doorstep when Gogo (Jenifer Lewis) enchants him with tales about an exotic-sounding city called Zambezia. Now, apart from being enamoured by female falcon Zoe (Abigail Breslin) who also provides him inspiration, Kai is in conflict with his dad Tendai (Samuel L. Jackson) about the whole Zambezia idea.
Zoe's father is the wise elder of Zambezia called Sekhuru (Leonard Nimoy) who also offers the young Kai wise words. This is when things take a familiar turn - as part of his coming of age, he must overcome the parent-child conflict and stick with his beliefs. There's also another reason why Kai wants to go to Zambezia - to join the Hurricanes, who comprise the city's guardian elite. To make the grade, he must please the leader of the Hurricanes, Ajax (Jeff Goldblum). Together, they must be vigilant of the Marabous (who are not allowed in the city) who have teamed up with a dangerous lizard called Buzdo (Jim Cummings).
The plot of this South African film is needlessly complicated and the dialogues, too many. The surfeit of characters clutters the film and makes the pace plod at times, despite the relatively short running time. The animations look quite dull and not smooth enough, like a dated video game. This one's fairly ho-hum.
'Zambezia', the new south African animated film is an obvious low budget animated feature, you wont see any ads on TV, and the animation looks 10 years old, but that's no reason to straight away hate on Zambezia, it's not one of those dubbed foreign trashy animated movies which have no single thing put into them apart from making money. Zambezia has a story, a plot, good characters. When it wants you to take it seriously you will take it seriously. When it wants you to laugh you will not be sitting there rolling your eyes.<br/><br/>The movie is another one of those typical 'parent letting go of child' kind of animated movies, which is possibly the most cliché type of character development seen in any kids movie. But I guess there's good reason for the situation, it just doesn't have it thrown in to make a plot (hint hint Ice Age 4). But I thought the characters were good, not really that deep, but good, nothing to really complain about.<br/><br/>The movie has a nice soundtrack, and I thought the visuals of the landscape were absolutely brilliant. The humour isn't bad, with a lot of jokes that hit. Nothing laugh out loud funny of course, but still much better than the humour in 'Ice Age 4'.<br/><br/>There are some obvious similaries to 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole' and possibly the movie was made with the intention to 'duel' Rio, but it still has originality, the bad guy for one, is new, and intimidating enough to be a good villain.<br/><br/>Zambezia is a perfectly good movie for kids and adults, there's nothing wrong with it at all really, and it actually kind of surprised me. I think this movie takes much more risks than 'Ice Age 4', 'Rio', and many other current animated films.<br/><br/>Go and see it, have a good time.