Is it the Wild Life in this CGI Take on Robinson Crusoe?


By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Don’t ask me why, but after seeing The Wild Life, a computer animated spin on the Robinson Crusoe legend, I now have the Talking Heads‘ 1986 hit song stuck in my head. This band’s track expounds a different kind of adventure of a human sexual variety while the theatrical film takes its inspiration from Madagascar.

One question pops up though: just how the heck did Mak the parrot, Rosie the warthog, Carmello the chameleon, Pango the pangolin, Epi the echidna, Scrubby the goat and Kiki the kingfisher end up on a desolate and mostly rocky island in the middle of nowhere anyways? My guess is that they got washed up after some storm picked them up from their natural habitats and forced them here. They more or less live a contented life until a human comes ashore.

Much of the plot is familiar. Watch DreamWorks‘ product and the patterns will emerge. Sadly, there are no penguins in this mix to make this film stand out. While it will keep young children entertained, some adults may well be wanting to pull out their cell phones mid-film and if I’m there, I will make sure they are kicked out of the theatre. Yes, to observe inconsiderate movie attendees think they can use their cellphone during a film is one of my biggest pet peeves. I would give anything to have this movie’s antagonists, a mangy feline May and Mal, scratch the eyes out of those annoying humans.

They are scavengers to the teeth, and just how they managed to raise a litter is just as much of a mystery too. While the evidence shows they caught bugs and fish to survive, just why they can not subsist off that instead of looking at the birds adds to my list of many questions of how can anyone survive without the barest of essentials — desalinated water.

Realism aside, the story does take a few cues from the source it is inspired from. In Robinson Crusoe, the survivor does make landfall with the Captain’s dog and two cats. The film takes a few liberties and makes the canine his pet and the cats the pirate’s meow — fierce and independent. He also does adopt Mak the parrot (now called Tuesday) and builds a habitat for his animal companions to live in. While this animated product will not inspire anyone to read the original work, anyone who grew up to the Talking Heads will soon be humming to the tune without even a notice. At least with this movie, it’s not necessarily a fail, it’s just poorly titled to get the audience’s attention. The entire narrative is told from the parrot’s perspective, and that’s hard to swallow.

At least the 3D is phenomenal; it’s better than most other CGI films I’ve seen to date. While Ratchet and Clank fell flat, this movie had the birds hovering off the screen and most of the effects can be felt. This illusion works best for people with 20/20 vision, but even for my stilted lens, I enjoyed even the most basic of tricks enhanced for the modern audience.

3 Stars out of 5

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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