'Khumba' is not as inspiring as it should be
By Queena Yen, The China Post
June 13, 2014, 3:36 am TWN
"Searching for self-identity and accepting the way you are," are popular topics shared by many popular animations — DreamWorks' "How to train your dragon" and Disney's "Frozen" are only two of many examples. It is a clichéd topic; however, world-famous animation studios still find ways to make this topic refreshing and interesting with creative ideas and touching storylines. This phenomenon has created audiences that have high expectations of animations.
With the scene set in South Africa and the animal-centered characters, people cannot help but expect something as inspiring and interesting as the much loved animation "Madagascar" or "Ice Age." Well, some of the scenes in this animation do look familiar. Actually, a little too familiar and people can immediately see that they are borrowing from animations that came before.
It would not be so bad if this movie was just trying to incorporate some great ideas from previous ones. However, the production team seems to be trying too hard in combining too many elements in one animation, attempting to please every audience. For example, there are times when some characters just start singing unnecessarily, making a poor musical scene without any good reason.
With a huge number of characters, there is unbelievably little sub-plot in this movie. Apart from the main character, Khumba (voice by Jake T. Austin), a half-striped preteen zebra, who starts his journey to find his stripes, there are also his adventure partners: the sassy buffalo, Mama V (Loretta Devine), who once lost her child, and the neurotic ostrich, Bradley (Richard E. Grant), who escapes from a butcher. For these two characters, audiences can feel that there are some untold heartbreaking stories. However, their stories are never quite told, leaving some blanks that make this animation incomplete.
In addition, there is an unsuccessful attempt to try to alter the image of the traditional animation villain. The production team creates a villain who rises in a tragedy. With a cruel and violent appearance, the notorious leopard Phango (Liam Neeson) has been expelled from his own group as he was born with only one functional eye. The half-blinded leopard then takes revenge by killing leopards and becoming the strongest of his kind in the area.
This story is quite interesting compared to other untold stories in this film. However, while audiences expect twists to give this leopard a surprising ending, the villain's final demise is quite predictable and disappointing.
With a storyline that's linear and limited, "Khumba" is quite disappointing for audiences who have become used to great animations in recent years.