Target audience: This is an animated adventure comedy set in Africa, aimed at ages about 6 years to adult.
Themes/values: Inclusion; teamwork; cooperation.
Duration: 1 hour 23 minutes
Cinema Release date: VIC/QLD/NT – 28 March; NSW/SA/ACT – 11 April; WA/TAS – 18 April..
This is the second movie these holidays about an adventurous child who is chafing under the restrictions of an over-protective father. In The Croods it was a teenage daughter; in Adventures In Zambezia, it's a young falcon called Kai.
A high-spirited and thrill-seeking bird, Kai lives with his father on the African plains. Kai's mother died a long time ago and his father, who is still grieving her loss, keeps reminding his son to look after himself, "because nobody else will". It's a lonely life for the young bird, so when Kai hears of a bird colony called Zambezia, he impetuously leaves his father and flies to the avian wonderland – a huge tree situated on an island on the Victoria Falls.
Here the film differs from The Croods, because where that film is about family, Adventures In Zambezia is about community. Kai becomes part of an elite group of birds that defend the island, but because of his independent ways and hotshot spirit, he has trouble fitting in. This leaves the colony vulnerable to attack from a predatory lizard called Budzo.
The story works, the action sequences are dynamic and the African landscapes are stunning, but the characters… just don't click. They are underdrawn and have little personality, especially Kai. More work could also have been done on the humour, which mostly falls flat.
Nevertheless, Adventures In Zambezia carries a strong and heartfelt theme about inclusion, which has special resonance given that the film was made in South Africa.
Language: Only a few mild insults, including: "Blackguard," "Old man," "You loony stork," "Crazy," "Take a hike, pipsqueak," "Stop your whining," "Hotshot," "Useless" and "Thickhead".
Violence/distressing scenes: There is more talk than action in Zambezia, but this action is mostly mild and comic, involving chases and knockabout slapstick. Some very young and sensitive children might be scared by Budzo the lizard, but there is no graphic violence. A couple of main characters fall from a dizzying height, possibly to their doom, but they are unharmed.
Bodily functions/grossness: A bird flies into a giraffe's backside, startling the animal.