If there’s something that bothers me about the wave of digital films for children’s entertainment nowadays, it’s that anyone who has a Mac and good enough software feels compelled to make a movie, no matter how much it sucks. And Disney (or Dreamworks) or another studio will put enough marketing money behind it to make anyone want to watch it.
How can you tell how good or bad it will be? Well, if it’s not a Pixar film, you can generally tell by the cast that is brought in to do voice work for it. In the case of The Wild, Samson the Lion (Kiefer Sutherland, 24) lives in the New York zoo with his son Ryan (hey, that’s me! But really it’s Greg Cipes, John Tucker Must Die). Ryan is a little bit shy because he hasn’t gotten his roar yet, and Samson is a legend among his zoo friends for the stories he tells. His friends include a giraffe named Bridget (Janeane Garofalo, The Truth About Cats and Dogs), a squirrel named Benny (Jim Belushi, According to Jim) and a snake named Larry (Richard Kind, Spin City). And Ryan leaves the zoo and accidentally gets on a ship bound for Africa, so Samson and friends follow the ship that lands’in the wild!
And hey, some other members of the cast aren’t completely laughable, Don Cherry puts in some time as a MC for a game in the film, and William Shatner provides his vocal talents in the film too, so dare I say it’s Shat-Tastic! The Wild was directed by Steve Williams, whose nickname is “Spaz” but also did computer work in films like Jurassic Park and Terminator 2, so this guy really knows his computer work. But the problem in the film lies in the story, as it’s really nothing more than the same recycled kids’ films plots from the last several decades. The father has a truth to tell that the son doesn’t know about, and the son tries to overcome overwhelming odds to trump his big hurdle. However, while The Wild may have some sort of appeal, its appeal just isn’t broad-reaching due to its lack of creativity.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack option is an active one for the film. There’s a lot of panning from center to front speakers, from front to back speakers and vice versa. It makes for an active sound field and a pretty enjoyable experience.
Whether the movie is bad or good, the digital transfer without creating a master on film is always a good thing, because the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen version of the film looks sharp. It’s not reference quality, but it does the job.
The extras are pretty light, which is a disappointment. There are some deleted scenes with some optional commentary, and a quick peek at how Izzard was in the studio, and there’s a music video for one of the songs. But after that, nary a supplement that lasts more than five minutes.
Well, the movie looks and sounds good, but the overall quality of the film lacks a bit for me. If you’ve got a toddler, they will probably enjoy this, but it’s not as good as other children’s films, much less other Disney ones.