Publicity Stills of "Chicken Little"
(Courtesy from BVI)

Genre: Animated Comedy-Adventure
Director: Mark Dindal
Starring (Voice Talents of): Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Joan Cusack, Steve Zahn, Amy Sedaris, Don Knotts, Harry Shearer, Patrick Stewart, Wallace Shawn, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Adam West, Enrico Colantoni, Patrick Warburton.

RunTime: -
Released By: BVI
Rating: G

Opening Day: 1 December 2005

Synopsis :

This time the sky really is falling in Walt Disney Pictures’ new computer-animated film “Chicken Little.” This epic tale presents a new twist to the classic fable of a young chicken that causes widespread panic when he mistakes a falling acorn for a piece of the sky. In this hilarious adventure, Chicken Little is determined to revive his ruined reputation. But just as things are starting to go his way, a real piece of the sky lands on his head! Suspense, chaos, and plenty of laughs ensue as Chicken Little and his band of misfit friends attempt to avert disaster without sending the town into a whole new panic. This time, when it comes to saving the world, it helps to be a little chicken.

Movie Review:

A little prologue before we embarked on the review of “Chicken Little”. Touted as Disney’s first computer-generated movie, “Chicken Little” is a milestone for the House of Mouse who makes it big through traditional 2D animations and awed the world with it’s first full-length feature, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” back in 1937. Fast forward to the year 2004, with some corporate decisions initiated by the infamous Disney’s ex-CEO Michael Eisner, the conglomerate decides to end it’s hand-drawn animation productions in addition the resolve of Disney’s collaboration with the great Pixar. This decision sent their in-house animation team into a spiral and thus “Chicken Little” were among the CG productions born amidst the chaos. As dramatic as it sounds, Disney has come a long way. If you can vaguely recall, Disney has another CG feature back in 2000, the lukewarm received “Dinosaurs”. Theoretically, “Chicken Little” isn’t Disney’s first CG effort. But that’s another long tale, let’s get on with our little chick! Shall we?

The story opens in a little town (where all kinds of animals lived in perfect harmony, this is a Disney cartoon if you don’t mind) called Oakey Oaks similar in outlook to “Toontown” in Disneyland if you have been there. Our cute little chick hero aptly named Chicken Little had caused a huge hoo-ha over an acorn falling from the sky as the “the sky is falling” earlier. But soon, he is once again thrown into frenzy when he found out the sky is indeed falling this time. The movie started promising enough and held the audience to their seats in it’s tight 78 minutes running time. But the jokes might fall flat on the kiddy audience which Disney is supposedly be targetting at. You get more laughter from the adults than the kids who are unusually quiet in the cinema hall.

On the plus side, Disney never fails in its ability to come up with immensely cute, memorable characters in their animation movies. Characters liked the pig, ugly duckling and the fish (a hyperactive character that will have you laughing in tears with his impersonation of King Kong) in “Chicken Little” compliment well with the bouncy voice talents from Steve Zahn, Joan Cusack who adds a real thrill to the whole setup. It’s a pity the talented Zach Braff (“Scrubs”, “Garden State”) who voiced Chicken Little has apparently failed to live up to its “looks”. His sort of laidback, gruff voice seem a little subdued for our smart, boisterous hero. At the end of the day, Chicken Little’s group of zany friends has clamored all the attention from the audience instead.

It’s inevitable to compare “Chicken Little” with other animation blockbusters from the more prominent animation studios. DreamWorks productions such as “Shrek” and “Sharktales” got most of their pulling power from their usual A-list “voice” cast and a mass parody of pop-cultures which most adult audience loved. Pixar emphasized on their story-telling techniques that even the weirdest plot (see “Monster Inc”) has most kids squealed in delight. Blue Sky’s limited outputs with only “Ice Age” and “Robots” on hand placed the latter in an awkward position to make a comparison. Coming back to Disney’s “Chicken Little”, it possessed a bit of everything from “Finding Nemo” to “Shrek, the similarities of the “father-and-son” relationship is extracted briefly from the former and to spoof blockbusters liked “War of the Worlds”, “Dodgeball” is inspired by the Shrek series.

The technical aspects of it such as lightning, figures rendering, set details still have room for improvement as compared to Pixar’s “Toy Story” or “The Incredibles”. Some of the background characters at times look fuzzy and repetitive. However, it’s a tad too early at this stage to give a good gauge of Disney’s CG animation output based on “Chicken Little” alone. While the issue of technology is never a problem to resolve given more time, storylines deserved more attention and polishing. The simplistic of the plotting is aimed perfectly at the younger audience unfortunately the jokes aren’t. Somehow, there’s a need for Disney to strike a balance between these two audiences before gold is unearthed.

Movie Rating:

(Chicken Little managed to score a homerun in the movie, it can’t be said so for the running-on-empty script. It’s the wondrous characters that saved the day!)

Review by Linus Tee

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