Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992) | Animated and Underrated
During my quest to relive some of the animated films of my youth (yeah, I know I’m only 21) I decided to pick up a few that had finally gotten their ass on Blu-ray: that being Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, courtesy of Discotek Media; and Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.
So I know that the Nostalgia Critic and Nostalgia Chick actually joined forces to tear this movie apart, but I wanted to still offer my personal opinion on it.
Let’s start off with the animation. Is it good, is it bad? Well… it’s a cut above the rest, I can certainly say that. When most other non-Disney flicks at the time looked more like higher budget TV movies, Ferngully manages to get enough good animators and staff on the job to make it stand on a good pair of legs. So that’s a good start.
How’s the music? Well there’s a few random songs thrown throughout the movie. In fact, it’s really weird, there’s a mixture of both cheap pop songs, along with I think only two musical numbers: those being the “Batty Rap,” sung by Robin Williams in his first animation role; and the villain song, “Toxic Love,” sung by the slimy Tim Curry. Other than that, there’s not a single other song in the whole flick. I always find it odd when a movie does this. It’s like they’re trying to pander to the Disney crowd by including a song or two, but they’re either too afraid or they’re not skilled enough to weave in another few songs to make it a decent 5. Cause I think if you’re going to bother to put musical numbers in your movies, you might as well have 5, since that seems to be the typical number for animated films. (The Little Mermaid: 5, Beauty and the Beast: 5, The Lion King: 5, Hunchback of Notre Dame: 5) When you have less, and especially if you don’t place them evenly throughout your movie, you almost give people whiplash when another song finally appears: like with The Brave Little Toaster, which felt it necessary to include only 4 songs, and cluster three of them next to each other after an entire 45 minutes since the first song.
But now you ask, “how are the songs themselves?” Well I’ve always found the “Batty Rap” a guilty pleasure and a quirky little music-video in itself. Robin Williams sounds like he’s having a lot of fun with it, as he often does with nearly everything he performs. And how can you not enjoy Tim Curry singing a sexy, innuendo-filled tune about garbage and sludge, huh? Well okay, I know some people enjoy that song and that scene, but for me, I’ve always found it really really disturbing and disgusting and freaky. I think it even once gave me nightmares. Lol
So what about the story then?
Well the story is pretty basic, not really a whole lot happens. In fact, I’m sure most of you who may be reading this have probably already seen the movie, and it’s not all that forgotten or rare. So there’s not much point in me describing what happens. But basically you’ve got the whole fish-out-of-water thing going on with an assistant lumberjack/logger named Zak, who is forcibly taken from the human world into the Fairy world, by being shrunken down by the fairy princess, Krista. The only reason she does this of course, is to save Zak from being crushed by a falling tree. You’ve also got the whole Avatar/Dances With Wolves/Atlantis the Lost Empire thing going on where Zak makes friends with the native fairies, but then it’s revealed that he was part of the logging industry that was tearing down the forest and destroying Ferngully and the fairy habitats. However, unlike Avatar, or something similar like A Bugs Life, the hero is not accosted by his new friends for having lied or done the terrible things that he’s done; instead Zak immediately goes into action to make things right, and Batty flies him to the logging machine in hopes of turning it off in time.
There are some key things to mention that I felt were either odd or came-and-went too fast without much explanation or any establishment.
For instance, there’s Krista’s father, who happens to be played by the same actor who will later play the Sultan in Disney’s Aladdin. He does next-to-no “kingly” things in this film, even though he’s clearly the King of something. Although Magi, the great fairy sage, feels more like a leader than he does, and she actually sacrifices her life to move on and let Krista find her own way in this world of magic and nature. Kinda like what happened to the turtle master in Kung Fu Panda. But anyway, the King never does much, and he’s only featured in one scene, and then 4-5 subsequent shots; never amounting to much.
Then there’s the Beetle Boys and their leader Pips. Sure Christian Slater has a cameo as Pips’ voice, but just like with many of Slater’s other roles, he isn’t there very long, and he isn’t very important. I don’t even know why the movie needed to include these guys; they don’t do anything to help the plot along. Maybe they’re just there because the cast of characters felt empty without them showing up a few times. And yeah, I can kinda see that. At least they did a heck of a lot more in the sequel. Then again, most of what they did in the sequel was dicking around and goofing off.
But then you’ve got probably the most disturbing thing I’ve EVER seen in an animated feature next to Rob almost getting crushed by that garbage compactor in The Brave Little Toaster… “Lava-Skeleton-Hexus”
Holy Crap! LAVA, SKELETON, HEXUS! This thing is the freakiest, most demonic looking thing I have ever seen, and it comes out of freaking nowhere. There is not a single reasonable explanation for it to exist. During the climax, Hexus loses all of his energy due to the logging machine shutting down and ceasing expulsion of gasoline fumes. And so Hexus fizzles away into a wisp of smoke. That is, until he magically returns not 3 seconds later as an enormous slime dripping skeleton wearing a cape, and apparently being fueled by the power of magma.
I don’t get this! I NEVER Got this! There’s no rhyme or reason for it! The writers apparently just wanted to bring Hexus back for one more good battle as the freakiest damn thing they could possibly think of. It’s like the final boss in a video-game, the boss always has a contingency plan with multiple forms. I guess this was just Hexus’ ULTRA FORM, and so he utilized his last resort in order to dispose of his mortal enemies. But it’s all in vain, as Hexus has no defense against the ultimate horror that is… “Scalp Weeds.” AAAAAaaaaaahhhhh…
(SIGH) Well, besides all that. What else is there to mention?
Basically, the movie has a mild nostalgic charm to it due to the familiar forest environment, the fun and jovial music at times, the cliché 1990s romance plot, and the whole fantasy aspect of fairies taking a human and bringing him to their world for a battle against the forces of POLUTION! Cause, you know, the 90s was really big on the whole “Save the Earth” thing.
And this is probably the biggest advocate for that cause as far as animated movies are concerned: so this one is well-remembered. But is it worth a watch, and is it really underrated? I don’t think it’s necessarily underrated, it’s just kind of there. And if you want a recommendation, I don’t necessarily know if I should give you one. To me this movie doesn’t leave me with anything really fun or memorable, all it leaves me with is the thought of that slime skeleton during the ending sequence. But if you want to give it a look, be my guest. I guarantee there’ll be a good 50/50 chance it was worth your time.
And get it on the blu-ray too. Sure, they didn’t do a thing to fix up the transfer, and half the time there’s white fibre particles all over the screen. But it still looks pretty darn good anyway, like any decent animated film on Blu-ray should.