Director: Edward Foo
Starring (Voice talents of): Fann Wong, Dennis
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 26 January 2006
The great Buddha gave the eminent Jade Emperor the task of
ruling the celestial and mortal worlds. Although the Emperor
has made the mortal world a fa?ade of peace and tranquillity,
which was thriving and prosperous, men still did not have
an awareness of time. With the absence of this facility, calamity
was certain. To prevent this calamity, the Jade Emperor gave
a celestial order.
it be known in the mortal world, that I, the Imperial Jade
Emperor, shall appoint 12 animals to ascend to the celestial
world. These 12 species of animals shall represent a cycle
of 12 years with each animal representing a year. Any humans
born in a particular animal’s year shall bear that animal’s
mark and his strength. This representation shall be known
as the Zodiac.”
deep in the dark swamps, the thousand year old tree spirit
hacks a plan of her own. Determined to thwart the plans of
her long time enemy, the Jade Emperor, she sets forth to prevent
the success of the Race be impeding the 12 chosen ones.
"Zodiac" has been generating much buzz in its publicity
campaign - you will know from advertisements everywhere that
this is being touted as the first ever 3-D animation feature
produced locally. A promising battlecry, if any, but the seemingly
bouyant exclamation gradually reads more like a pleading disclaimer
as you're watching the movie.
The age old tale of the Chinese Zodiac should be familiar
to many, otherwise, the quick summary would have you know
that it is the story of how twelve animals selected by the
Heavenly Courts were put in a race that would determine the
order in which they were arranged to represent the lunar years.
The winner of the race would naturally represent the first
year, so on and so forth, and the order would be repeated
after every revolution of twelve years. It is no secret that
the tiny mouse eventually wins the race by hitching a ride
from the bull and outwitting the other animals, which leads
to the neat finale that concludes with the moral of the day:
"brain over brawn".
Taking into consideration that this is Singapore's maiden
attempt at animation, the visuals in "Zodiac" are
a good enough attempt. While concessions can be made in our
expectations for the animation, it will be much harder to
forgive the incoherence of the storyline. What "Zodiac"
is lacking most desperately is a strong story; Chen Zhao Jing's
original spin on the tale is simply not risky or quirky enough
to pull off a feature length film. In handling twelve animals
at once, the plot is exposed to clumsiness and the sketchy
editing certainly does not help. Though there are moments
of endearing whimsy such as when the monkey gets its infamous
red derriere, these cheeky details come few and far between.
In the end, it is clear that Fann Wong's star power is the
only factor sustaining "Zodiac". It is disappointing
when an actor (in this case, a mere voice) is bigger than
the movie itself, but at least it's an astute production decision.
An apt case of life imitating art, perhaps, for a movie that's
about playing to your strengths and conquering the insurmountable.
by Angeline Chui