Marketing is very important for a movie. Many think that star power or an impressive audio track will do the trick. Even if you crank up the special effects to eleven, it might do nothing for the film. That is unless some solid marketing executives do their best to get it out there and into the minds of the ticket buyers. Take a film called Delgo. It boasted one of the worst grossing wide releases in recent history. However, the animated movie had a solid speaking cast and the animation was very respectable. So what exactly happened? Marketing.
There are two primary types of creatures on the planet of Jhamora. There are the Lokni, which are best described as humanoid like lizards with the special gift of stone magic. The other group is known as the Nohrin. They resemble humanoid like fairies gifted with wings that enable them to fly. They were given permission to habitat the land by the Lokni. However, soon we found that various members of Nohrin wish to take over the land and away from the Lokni people.
Sedessa (voiced by Anne Bancroft) leads the Nohrin into battle against the Lokni and wishes to control them. Her brother, King Zahn (voiced by Louis Gossett Jr ) admonishes her for her feelings and her war mongering attitude. Sedessa is not satisfied with this and plots to kill King Zahn and his queen. One night, she slips into the king’s quarters and poisons the queen. The queen falls dead and Sedessa moves on to her next victim, the King. However, the newborn baby of the King and Queen cries which wakes the king & causes Sedessa to be caught of her foul deed.
Sedessa is convicted of treason and as a punishment her wings are clipped off and she is exiled to a haunted land full of ogres, goblins and other assorted nasties. Fifteen years later, a Lokni named Delgo (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr) has grown up from the wars between the two species. In the wars, Delgo’s parents were killed and he is raised by Elder Marley (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan) who is attempting to teach him the art of stone magic.
One day, Delgo is hanging around with his friend: Filo (voiced by Chris Kattan) and a stampede takes place which sends Delgo holding onto a branch for his dear life and moments away from falling into the abyss below. He sends Filo to find some help but is rescued by a Nohrin, Princess Kyla (voiced by Jennifer Love Hewitt). After the rescue, the two do make a friendship. However this is broken up by Nohrin guards and the groups depart.
This fuels the renewed start of tensions between the two species. The Lokni think that the Nohrin guards were trying to rough up the two boys while the Nohrin think that the two boys were trying to kidnap the princess. Rumors of a war break out and it is fueled by sabotage. This sabotage the viewer finds out is indeed Sedessa who is back with her badlands army. The tension between the two species reaches an epic pitch when Princess Kyla is kidnapped by Sedessa’s guards and made to look like Delgo of the Lokni did it.
The Nohrin capture Delgo and Filo and place them in the dungeon. There the two meet Bogardus (voiced by Val Kilmer), a Nohrin who has been imprisoned for excessive gambling and bad behavior. Together, they discover a foul plot is underfoot. Reluctantly, they decide to work together and plan an escape. But can they find the princess in time and can they prevent an impending war between the two species?
The movie is actually very good. The voice parts are extremely well done and most of the parts sound genuine. The story is a bit cliché in the fact that it is the brash young boy saving the princess scenario, but it feels a little different due to the animation style. The animation isn’t quite up to par of a Pixar or Dreamworks picture but it is on level. As mentioned, the characters are interesting, especially Delgo, Bogardus, Sedessa & Elder Marley. The only one who fits into the annoying category would have to be Filo. It is not the fault of Chris Kattan but rather they made him to be a bumbling dolt at every conceivable turn.
Delgo had a budget of forty million dollars. The production group actually traveled to the various stars and had them record their voice parts as opposed to all of the actors coming to a studio. The film was actually started in 1999 with animation work that started in 2001. Unfortunately, a couple of the stars in the movie, most notably Anne Bancroft, died before production was complete.
A strong cast, strong animation and a good (but sometimes clichéd) story help to make this a fine movie. If there were some better marketing around the film’s release, I think it would have done more business than the abysmal box office that it made. Hopefully on dvd (and I assume eventual blu-ray), it can find those fans that this movie was searching for. This movie is certainly okay for kids as any violence is cut away from and we never get to see the effects. My personal wish is that I would have also received a full dvd release of the movie rather than a screener copy from Fox so that I could have gave this more than the typical No Huddle Review. Recommended, especially for children.