Genre: CG Animation
Director: Reinhard Klooss, Holger Tappe
Cast: Jim Broadbent, James Cordon, Omid Djalili, Jason Donovan, Dawn French, Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Billie Piper, Vanessa Redgrave, Andy Serkis
RunTime: 1 hr 33 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: G
Official Website:

Opening Day:
9 June 2011

Synopsis: In the Okavango Delta, Billy, the little mischievous meerkat, and his best (and only) pal Socrates, the friendly lion, wait for the annual flood, essential to the Delta and all the animals living there.

Wanting to prove to his adoring son Junior that he's not the screwball loser everyone, sometimes justifiably so, thinks he is, Billy sets out to find water, accompanied by Socrates. On their journey, they meet a truly wild and funny bunch of animals from all over the world, who have flocked to Africa in search of a new home.

Movie Review:

Yes, we know everyone’s excited about being the first to catch the mutants, aliens, robots and other superheroes on the big screens. That, together with the expensive looking flashy special effects, makes smaller movies like this look mediocre and second rate. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t help that this isn’t an animated feature from Hollywood honchos like Pixar or DreamWorks.

Call this reviewer soft hearted, but how can you bear to diss a movie that promotes environmentalism and sends a strong message about man’s destruction of animal habitats?

The two protagonists in this animated film are a glib meerkat and a disenchanted lion, who decide to go on a quest to discover why the river in their habitat has unexpectedly dried up. Along the way, they meet other animals whose homes have been destroyed by man’s inconsiderate ways. Their journey brings them to a dam which has been constructed to supply energy for a luxury resort. They must then come up with a plan to break the dam to get water flowing back into the delta again.

You aren’t the only one who noticed something strange with the characters’ mouth movements. The lip synching seems out of place only because this is a German production with an original German cast of unfamiliar names like Ralf Schmitz, Thomas Fritsch and Bastian Pastewka. Here, we have James Corden (Gulliver’s Travels) as the talkative meerkat, Stephen Fry (Alice in Wonderland) channeling a tender and gentle touch to the disillusioned lion, as well as veterans Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) and Vanessa Redgrave (Letters to Juliet) lending weight to the movie as a pair of loving tortoises.

It is inevitable that you compare this movie with more well known animations like 1994’s The Lion King (weren’t Timon the meerkat and Simba the lion in this Disney production best friends too?) and 2005’s Madagascar (weren’t the motley crew of animals in this DreamWorks hit from Africa as well?). True, this somewhat bland movie directed by Reinhard Klooss and Holger Tappe won’t be the most impressive animated movie you’ve seen. Its 3D effects are average at best, the animal characters do not leave a lasting impression, while the computer generated effects in scenes involving massive numbers of rhinoceroses and buffalos seem dated.

But the movie still deserves some credit - if you’ve got any heart for this planet you call home.

Based on a children’s storybook 1945 The Animals’ Conference, this movie was first visualised in 1969 by Curt Linda. Some 40 years later, the satire in which the world’s animals unite to successfully force humans to disarm and make peace with each other may be diluted (no thanks to today’s need to produce movies which are simple and digestible), but the 93 minute movie is so upfront with its environmental message that you can’t help but recommend young kids to catch it.

It may seem ridiculously unbelievable at first, but the film’s highlight has to be the rather surrealistic finale where animals from all over the world march onto the streets of New York to sound out that the animal kingdom is under threat from mankind.

Movie Rating:

(An environmental lesson for the young ones at home)

Review by John Li

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