Thirteen years ago, the power-mad General Zhong seized control of Planet Bana and tore it to pieces in the process. Now splintered into hundreds of shards, Zhong is Bana's evil-overlord, ruling with an iron fist. Enter Spark, a teenage monkey and his friends, Vix, a battle-ready fox, and Chunk, a tech-savvy pig. Spark learns of Zhong's secret plan to take over the universe by capturing a giant space monster known as the Kraken, a beast that has the power to create black holes. If Zhong manages to harness the Kraken's power, he'll have history's deadliest weapon at his fingertips, and it's up to Spark and his friends to stop him. Spark's journey takes him to the farthest reaches of the universe, where he encounters great dangers and discovers the secret of his true identity. An action-packed space adventure full of humor and heart, this movie is the story of a boy who takes on great responsibility and in the process discovers his rightful place in the universe.Written by
Being a huge lifelong animation buff, and always judging animated films as family films and as a young mature adult but a child at heart, 'Spark' could have been much more. Especially when considering the high calibre of vocal talent and that the concept was a decent one.
'Spark' is not an irredeemably awful animated film, there are a few things that make it a could-be-much-worse watch. One also cannot accuse 'Spark' of not trying, it's very low budget stuff but it isn't completely lazy. If anything actually 'Spark' tries too hard, and after watching personally was left feeling disappointed more than satisfied. Considering that people like Patrick Stewart and Susan Sarandon were involved one would naturally expect it to be better than it turned out to be.
The best thing about it is Stewart. The accent isn't great, sounding more Russian than Scottish, but of the voice cast Stewart is easily the liveliest of the bunch and the one who fits the most, the character fitting him like a glove. He does boast the odd amusing moment and conveys some dignity and gravitas. Jessica Biel also fares reasonably well, her voice is also a good fit and she brings a toughness and sassiness. There is the odd amusing moment, all with Stewart's Captain.
However, odd amusing moment is nowhere near enough. There are a lot of jokes and moments meant to be funny, but one knows there's something wrong when they're left stone-faced for most of them and few hit the mark. The space roaches were clearly meant to be comic relief scene stealers but ended up being completely pointless and annoying. 'Spark' injects a lot of references (the most recognisable being 'Star Wars') and Asian and Western genre ingredients that strives to be clever but ended up blatantly obvious and cheaply placed and random, not serving much of a purpose either.
There is a big problem with target audience and who it's aiming at. It tries to cater to both children and adults and sadly fails at both. Children will find that the jokes will go over their heads with them mainly being too young to understand them, they are likely also to have trouble following the story too (as a young adult who has seen her fair share of very layered films that do a lot and succeed that was one of 'Spark's' biggest issues). Adults on the other hand will find the opposite problem, they will get the jokes and the references but find them juvenile and dumbed down and dislike how they're placed.
Voice talent-wise, only Stewart and Biel come off successfully. The cast do their best but it was a case of too many of them not fitting their characters. Jace Norman (who is an older teenager himself but struggles to capture the attitude and mannerisms of a teenage character not that much younger) and Hilary Swank (voicing a character in need of dignity which Swank doesn't capture) are too bland and lightweight for their roles. On the other hand, Alan C. Peterson overdoes it and comes over as more hammy and over-the-top than menacing (some may argue that was the intent, but Zhong was never really a threat and was too exaggerated for a villain which didn't feel right within the film). Susan Sarandon, with her character's name guaranteed to induce groans, just sounded wrong, and everybody else has characters that lack personality or irritate which shows in their delivery.
When it comes to the animation, there is certainly far worse looking animation. It certainly isn't as cheap as the animation in the output of Video Brinquedo, Spark Plug Entertainment, the later 'Swan Princess' sequels or the ones for 'Alpha and Omega', or when it comes to traditional animation, the completely unnecessary sequels to animated masterpieces (like the one for 'The Secret of NIMH'), all of which showed a lack of effort. There's far better too, this is not intending to sound unfair but it does lack the finesse and polish of the best of Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks. A few decent colours here and there but a lot of it is blocky, flat and static with a distinct lack of imagination.
In terms of music, there is nothing memorable here and stylistically it doesn't gel. The characters, that are basically stock archetypes, are not engaging in personality and ones we don't get to know or care about with little growth to them. The story is very fragmented and a case of a lot of noise and throwing in as much as possible and no charm, spark or heart. The pace never fires on all cylinders (children and adults alike may find themselves looking at their watches), instead being very routine, and coherence is not a strong suit either, aside from the very heavy borrowing of better films (notably 'The Lion King') the story is unfathomable.
Dialogue is substandard and like the writers didn't bother to proof read what they wrote before having the script approved, some of the sentences don't even make sense and there is no substance to any of it.
Altogether, not a complete waste of time but tries too hard and suffers from feeling very bland, rushed-looking, muddled, routine, over-stuffed and with things (like a lot of the voices, music and particularly the references and genre tropes) not fitting. 3/10 Bethany Cox
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this