Not having seen FernGully we couldn’t really
comment on it, but since then we did manage to see FernGully –
a 1992 animated movie featuring the voice talents of Christian Slater
(remember him?), Robin Williams (on autopilot as the motor-mouth comic
sidekick – something which worked in Aladdin but not here) and Tim
Curry amongst others.
Interestingly enough both FernGully: The Last Rain
Forest (to use its full title) and Avatar were brought out by the same
company – namely 20th Century Fox. Does it mean anything? Read on . . .
If you haven’t seen FernGully – either as a kid
or an adult – then don’t fret. It is hardly an animation classic by any
standard. Boasting the sort of clunky animation that is OK for breakfast
TV but will make Disney animators sigh and roll their eyes, FernGully
rides high on a lot of ecological / New Age concerns of the era, stuff
that actually found their way into kiddies TV of the time. (Remember the
G.I. Joe show in which the squad protected the environment?)
Although it was made in the early 1990s there is
something very ‘Eighties about FernGully. Perhaps it is the songs
by the likes of Sheena Easton who already were has-beens by the time the
movie was made. Maybe it is the hero’s mullet or the fact that he listens
to an oversized Sony Walkman. Generational zeitgeists don’t have cut-off
dates that transpire neatly with the ends of decades, but looking back now
it seems as if 1992 was still suffering from a 1980s hangover – that is,
if FernGully is to be believed.
On the surface the 1992 movie’s plot has a lot of
similarities with 2009’s Avatar:
Crysta, the curious tree fairy discovers Zak, a real
life human who is trying to demolish the rainforest. Once Zak sees the
beauty and magic of FernGully, he vows to save it. But it may be
too late. The diabolical Hexxus is on the loose and intent on destroying
all of FernGully.
Replace Crysta with Neytiri, Zak with Jake Sully,
FernGully with Pandora and Hexxus with evil multinational corporation
and you might have a workable plot synopsis of
Avatar. Some of the mumbo jumbo
“everything is connected through the trees” New Age dialogue from
FernGully might as well have been snatches of dialogue from
rip off FernGully?
No, we don’t think so. In FernGully
Hexxus may sound like an evil multinational corporation, but it is in fact
an evil sprit that takes over a mechanical woodcutting machine. The plot
steers into a completely different direction altogether, probably because
the filmmakers decided that small kids shouldn’t have to cope with Zak
(the hero) starting a petition to stop his former employees from
destroying the rainforests. Instead he gets to battle an evil smoke cloud
voiced by Tim Curry.
It is unfair – not to mention nasty and vindictive - to
compare this cheesy ‘Nineties animated flick with Cameron’s multimillion
dollar epic even though they both contain easily forgettable pop songs.
That is because we think that
ripped off FernGully AND Dances with Wolves – and not just
Go check out Kevin Costner’s 1990 Oscar favorite again
or read the below IMDb.com synopsis before you tell us we’ve got it wrong:
Having been sent to a remote outpost in the wilderness
of the Dakota territory during the American Civil War, Lieutenant John
Dunbar encounters, and is eventually accepted into, the local Sioux tribe.
He is known as "Dances with Wolves" to them and as time passes he becomes
enamored by the beautiful "Stands With a Fist". Not soon after, the
frontier becomes the frontier no more, and as the army advances on the
plains, John must make a decision that will not only affect him, but also
the lives of the natives he now calls his people . . .
Avatar: Special Edition - with more than
eight minutes of never before seen footage
- begins a limited theatrical engagement on the 27th of August 2010,
exclusively in Digital 3D and IMAX 3D.