After Captain Planet and the Planeteers tried to make the environmental consciousness cool almost two years earlier, it was time to inform the masses and convey the plight of the rainforest to the big screen. The film was an attempt to get children to care about nature, to spread a message and to make an animated film based on bedtime stories that Diana Young told her children in the 1970s. It took a long time to get here, but even thirty years later, most can still remember its magic FernGully: The last rainforest.
FernGully concerns a specific rainforest in Australia – even if no one in the film has the proper local accent – and the creatures that live in it. The main character, Crysta (Samantha Mathis), is a fairy who lives with others of her kind and their pet friends. Their house is soon threatened by a machine that cuts down trees and an ancient evil named Hexxus, but before all this the public must meet Zak, a young lumberjack who accidentally shrinks and meets the forest dwellers. seeing their magic first hand. It’s a solid setting for a 76-minute animated film, just add some memorable characters and some decent songs – an instant classic. Okay, we’re not going to go that far. FernGully is good, but not wonderful. The most interesting places are the ones that people forgot, did not see when they were younger or did not know about its production.
This is a movie that would not have been possible without its success The little Mermaid helping to rekindle the love of cartoons and secure its place on the big screen. The fact that 1989’s success was a Disney movie is remarkable given the problems FernGully had with the largest studio. The play’s director, Bill Kroyer, and its author, Jim Cox, were both Disney veterans and managed to chase several young artists under the nose of Jeffrey Katzenberg, who headed Disney’s animation department. This was done after a deceptive tour of the studio while wearing someone else’s name.
Not surprisingly, Katzenberg was unhappy and went so far as to bid Kroyer Films at two of its potential office locations. He also tried to persuade actor Robin Williams not to be inside FernGullysince he made them a short film called Aladdin the same time. However, Williams refused to listen to the argument and the smaller studio was eventually set up in an old local brewery.
FernGully could not compete with Disney at the same level. Although the cartoons were back in the spotlight, it was still difficult to get the general public to watch most of the genre’s non-Disney productions. The play had to speak for itself, and that meant the presentation had to be fantastic. Kroyer was willing to go the extra mile to make this happen and was already looking to combine CGI and traditional art before many embraced the method.
The team spent seven weeks exploring Australia’s rainforests, while animators sketched and created the film’s setting based on the actual locations, choosing not to make a more enhanced version of this piece of nature. They were particularly inspired by the shiny mushrooms, which helped to enliven their vision. This attention to detail ensured that most viewers found the graphics incredibly enjoyable.
Then he came in characters and voices. The designs themselves were great in most places, such as Crysta with her expressive performance, Goanna, the colorful screen lizard and the tasteless villain, Hexxus, who had to step down to make sure she would not scare the kids. Other characters, however, are considered a bit boring and underused, where it seems that some are there just for the sake of cameo – like Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong as Beetle Boys – or do not have the chance for a full story, like Pips (Christian Slater) .
Fortunately, the vocal action is decent here with most of the cast, but it really stands out in a few places. Many viewers will remember the character of Batty Koda, a laboratory experiment that was shocked many times and brought to life by the manic chaos that was Robin Williams in his first animated role. Some may find this performance less sophisticated and a little annoying, but there is no shortage of energy. He’s not only crazy, but so is Bati rap! Although Batty’s role was initially supposed to be smaller, Williams’s work was incredibly appreciated and he’s supposed to have recorded material worth almost 14 hours for the film.
Time Curry is also great as Hexxus, giving the bad range and performing his memorable song, “Toxic Love”, ranking quite high as the bad guys go for the many kids who saw this song in the movies. In fact, the only character that does not work for me is Zak, our human protagonist, played by Jonathan Ward. This actor is mostly known for Charles in Charles as Mac and Me, but whether it is his interpretation or the dialogue, a little charm or emotion comes out of the lines. It feels like one of the little hits on the street to be a much better movie and makes many wonder if there needs to be any human element in the main cast.
Music also adds something extra, even if it is not immediately recognizable. In addition to the two cases mentioned above, there is also a song called “If I’m Gonna Eat Somebody (It Might As Well Be You),” sung by Tone Loc, who adorns us with his beautiful baritone voice, with lyrics written by Jimmy Buffet. There are other tracks performed by Sheena Easton, Raffi and Elton John, all backed by great music by Alan Silvestri. It’s a varied soundtrack that helps elevate the film to points and if one finds them worth complaining about, most of these numbers end relatively quickly.
The strange parts of the plot and the pacing problems stand out a little more now watching the years later. Hexxus and Leveler create a constant conflict, but that’s when everyone remembers that there was a Doomsday device in their home. However, give the film the credit for an ending that still holds decently and does not allow Zak to simply remain in this new utopia with the girl who fell.
FernGully also has a weird sexual atmosphere, showing Zak and Crysta falling in love quickly with each other while Pips is jealous. There is also the strange scene of the blue hand that many interpret as some form of sex in the woods or spirit, although Jacques had to hide people’s intentions to give himself more time to score. In the songs, Tone Loc sings a hymn about eating someone in a suffocating way, while Hexxus uses the word “horny” in his big ballad and as soon as Zak returns to his world Crysta seems to be flirtatiously flirting with Pips again. .
In a less subtle message, many of the lines refer directly to the destruction caused by humans, the damage they do, and how these actions have damaged nature and the planet as a whole. In a way, this seems more apologetic because most of it serves the plot, especially the secondary theme of animal experimentation with Batty. But even though producer Wayne Young said he wanted to be loud and not preach, he certainly feels that way in many places. FernGully was even presented to the UN General Assembly in 1992 on Earth Day, only if the environmental message that shone was not clear.
FernGully is a movie that is still remembered by many fans, even though most people have never played the computer game, which is just an e-coloring book, or have not seen the sequel to 1998, FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue, which was released as a sequel live on video without Zak or any of the original vocal actors. The film arose in a conversation and in comparison with that of James Cameron Avatar, even for a joke. Still, years later, there are many who remember the movie that tried to inspire kids to make a difference, that wanted to stand up and take a seat next to Disney and that tried to show us all some magic in the world.