At first glance, the Australian produced film Ferngully appears to be a film that helps to educate and moderately punish the crazy white man for all of the harm and damage that he’s done to Mother Earth, never mind all of the data that seems to refute the selfish thought that our generation would be ultimately responsible for harming the land.
Based on the stories of Diana Young, the animated film follows Krysta (Samantha Mathis, The Thing Called Love) and her friend Pips (< ...>Broken Arrow co-star Christian Slater), who are tree spirits in the Australian rainforest. Krysta runs into Zak, who is helping to mark trees for demolition/recycling at the hands of a couple of construction workers, played by Geoffrey Blake and Robert Pastorelli (Murphy Brown). The problem is that while they are cutting trees down, they are releasing toxins and poisons in the air, represented by Hexxus (Tim Curry, Charlie’s Angels).
Directed by Bill Kroyer, Ferngully does a good job of helping to show Zak the consequences of what happens to the rainforest if he continues his current course. Despite the hindrance of the supposedly Australian Zak not possessing an Australian accent of any note, it’s still a decent film to show kids what happens when trees burn down. In a supporting role, the normally very loud Robin Williams (Good Morning Vietnam) is somewhat scaled back and is actually not too bad, compared to his normal over the top delivery. The folks at Fox have released Ferngully in a 2 disc “Family Fun Edition” that is supposed to be a little more entertaining that the initial version that my wife saw theatrically when she was a zygote (it may be the only time I get to call her that, so I might as well enjoy it).
There’s a choice of a full frame version and a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen version, both of which are on Disc 1 of a two disc set. Three guesses as to which version I selected? Well, the widescreen version looks pretty good, with a layer of film grain reproduced throughout the feature and the color palette is shown vividly and without distortion.
There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that sounds very well and some of the effects from the film come through very well in the smaller satellite speakers. Some of the film has some musical numbers in it, and they sound good too.
Fox has loaded this two disc set up fairly well, starting with a commentary by Kroyer, his wife Susan (who served as a coordinating Art Director) and Ralph Eggleston (who was the primary Art Director). They all talk about how the film came about, from pencils to ink, while Bill (who sounds a lot like Jeff Goldblum) recalls working with the vocal talent of the film. All in all, it’s an OK track for its smallish length. The other feature on disc one is titled Seed to Story: A Script to Screen Comparison that shows 5 scenes with optional screenwriter commentary, totaling about 8 minutes altogether. It shows comparison shots of storyboards, the dialogue lines in the screenplay, and the finished product, and is a nice comparison of things.
Disc 2 is broken down into three sections. There are 8 (count ‘em) set top games for the kids to enjoy, followed by a section of TV spots and trailers (3 each) for the film. The featurettes section has the original featurette, which amounts to a six minute EPK, along with a music video for the film. The highlight is a new look at the film, entitled From Paper to Tree (not the best choice of words for an environmentally conscious film), which features a mix of on set and new interviews, including one with Mathis, go figure! It’s a great look at the project from story to screen, as Young shares her inspirations for the stories, and Kroyer discusses the animated challenges from a production standpoint. All in all, considering this is a kids’ film, Fox loaded this film up quite nicely.
A 78 minute film gets a decent video and audio presentation, and more extras than one would normally anticipate. It’s a solid rental for the family (at the very least), with a slight leaning towards purchase as a solid family film, despite the normally “hippy-esque” themes of it.
Special Features List
- Director/Filmmaker Commentary
- Script to Screen Comparison
- Set Top Games
- Trailers and TV Spots
- Multi-Angle Featurette
- Original and New Making Of Featurettes