Riki the Rhino can easily get missed when parents are looking for wholesome animated films for their kids to watch. Thankfully, this film can be streamed too, as it’s uncertain if every big box store will carry the home video release.
This work not only teaches the value of friendship in the same vein as Disney’s The Lion King, but also animal conservation. In order to deal with the latter in a non-violent way, the fights are no less threatening than what one sees at Spanish bullfighting.
It won’t win huge awards because CGI is less than stellar. The production and pixel art is similiar to the effort put behind A Turtle’s Tale, and that’s only because in other countries (Indonesia, in this instance), the production houses don’t have the computer render farms PIXAR has. However, in terms of its narrative, every word and action counts here.
This film shows how Riki (voiced by Jennifer Castle) survives against ridicule. He worries that he’s no longer the Sumatran Rhinocerotidae that he once is. After losing his parents to a fire that wasn’t a controlled burn for human farming, he’s on his own. Thankfully, he has a few friends to help as he navigates the rain forest of Indonesia. It’s a harsh world, because not only are there snakes, but also nasty individuals who are headhunting (if I’m correct) for rare animals to put on display than place at a zoo.
Admiringly, he has his buddy, Beni the duck (Paul Reynolds), to assist. This world is also filled with secrets, and together, they are in search of a healer to restore his horn. Presumedly, to also help the duck grow back his feathers, too. This bird gave up his clothes to create a replacement piece of bone, and he can’t cultivate down fast enough! It’s a hilarious gag that kept me curious.
Together, they meet other creatures who become allies and run into other poachers. There’s even a lion to assist too! However, the worst of that bunch isn’t far behind, as he wants more than Riki’s horn on his wall. This individual looks like Kraven the Hunter from the Spider-Man comics because of the necklace he wears, and he’ll stop at nothing to hunt this mammal down.
Riki the Rhino doesn’t feel the same when he’s feeling less than a rhino. For the first half of the film, he’s in hiding, and it took more than a few friends to convince him that he shouldn’t feel ashamed for what he lost. Ultimately, the narrative is about how he can learn to hold his head up high with or without his signature snout.
Despite having a brisk 85-minute run time, the story strays. The other woodland characters Riki meets are many, and I’m not as invested in their plight. It’s not until the rhino encourages them all to rise up like he did, much like Manny from the Ice Age movies. The only difference is that we don’t have Scrat to offer comic relief. Had there been an equivalent, I’d laugh a lot more.
Although this film is to make viewers aware of illegal poaching going on in South Asia, it’ll be tough to say how much of an impact it’ll make in the long run. It’s good that this message is being delivered in children’s entertainment, but ultimately, more work needs to be done. That is, we still need to teach older youths what animal conservationalism and show what loving life means. That’s all we need, and it’s what this film ends on.
3 Stars out of 5