DVD Review: Ferngully - The Last Rainforest (Family Fun Edition)
Country: United States
Release Date: October 14, 2005
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
· Bill Kroyer
· Tim Curry
· Samantha Mathis
· Christian Slater
· Jonathan Ward
· Robin Williams
· Grace Zabriskie
· Cheech Marin
· Tommy Chong
by Adam Scholtz
Published: April 3, 2006
“FernGully” is one of those lesser known animated movies of the early 90’s which, amid a flurry of other animated releases, tended to get forgotten. This Family Fun Edition release of the movie on DVD is a great reminder of what a good children’s movie this was, as well as being interesting enough to keep most adults entertained.
The movie starts with the legend of FernGully being told to a young fairy named Krysta (Samantha Mathis) by the fairy tribal elder Magi Lune (Grace Zabriskie). It tells of an evil smog demon by the name of Hexxus (Tim Curry) and how he was trapped in a twisted tree deep in the Australian rainforest years ago. Humans have not been seen in the rainforest since long ago, and the fairy tribe is starting to wonder what their purpose in life really is. Later during a social gathering they are interrupted by a lab animal in the form of Batty Koda (Robin Williams), a multiple personality bat that provides the comic relief for the movie. The fairies of course all are hesitant to believe his rambling, but Krysta decides to check out the smoke that is rising near a distant mountain above the forest anyway.
Krysta speeds ahead of everyone else and ends up finding a clear cutting crew with a massive machine known as the “Leveler”. A young man named Zak (Jonathan Ward) is painting a large red “X” on each tree that is to be removed by the machine. He spots a flash of light and ends up being shrunk by Krysta down to her size. She takes a liking to him eventually and they end up making their way back to her home. Batty finds them soon after and displays his dislike of Zak due to what humans did to him in the lab. Around the same time the behemoth tree clearing machine ends up cutting down Hexxus’ tree prison, giving him yet another chance to destroy FernGully and it’s inhabitants via commanding the crew over intercom to head there immediately and destroy everything in their path.. Since neither Zak or Krysta know what is happening, they frolic and talk about each other’s ways of life, growing more affectionate towards each other as time goes on. She is saddened by the fact that Zak is not in tune with nature, but she likes he regardless. Eventually they make it back to FernGully and she introduces Zak to the rest of the tribe. Her friend Pips (Christian Slater) immediately shows strong jealousy at the fact that Krysta has a different guy then him with her. The imminent threat is soon discovered and sends the tribe into a state of panic. Krysta goes to find Magi to learn what is happening and what can be done to stop it, and finds out some things that she probably did not wish to learn about Zak and what is really going on.
Zak and the fairy tribe end up teaming up to take down Hexxus and restore peace to FernGully. They all team up and pool their magical power to focus on the seed that Krysta flies down Hexxus’ throat with, trapping him in another tree and destroying the leveling machine. They all mourn for Krysta thinking she is gone, but she magically revives in an opening bud of the tree and shows much more magical power over growth afterwards.
The story has a strong message of nature and environment and that you should take care of it so it isn’t destroyed. Zak and the two guys that ran the machine both see that they were destroying something important and seem to repent in their ways after the events that unfold. It isn’t the perfect animate movie, giving it had a short production time, but it is definitely worth a watch through and will be one movie that most kids will love to see more then one time.
The movie has both the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen version, and a 4:3 full screen version included, a nice touch that lets people watch it in the best way suited to their home entertainment setup. The movie was cleaned up pretty well, but does not look to be fully remastered, which is a slight disappointment. The sound is available in 5.1 surround in English and French, as well as 2.1 in Spanish. The sound effects are done well and the songs are almost all good, with Robin Williams and Tim Curry giving great solos. There really isn’t a bad song included, but they all show their age pretty well. Voices are all good to me, I can’t think of one specific character that was overly bad, but Robin Williams definitely stood out as Batty due to all the witty lines he had. Everyone’s favorite stoner duo, Cheech and Chong, even had small parts as members of the Beetle Bros.
The special features on this set are very well put together and includes tons of different things. The first disc features audio commentary with Director Bill Kroyer, Coordinating Art Director Susan Kroyer, and Art Director Ralph Eggleston cover almost everything you would be interested in about the creation of the movie. Anything not found about the production history on the featurettes is likely included here, or explained in better detail elsewhere. The commentary is very well done and quite extensive. The other feature on disc one is a Script to Screen comparison, which has five scenes with commentary by screenwriter Jim Cox.
The second disc has a big helping of features, with the first featurette From Paper To Tree including interviews with a large number of people involved in the movie, such as Author Diana Young, Producer Wayne Young, Director Bill Kroyer, Samantha Mathis, Grace Zabriskie, Animation Director Tony Fucile, Character Animator Chrystal Klabunde, Animator Steve Markowski, Character Design and Animator Kathy Zielinski, Tim Curry, Producer Peter Faiman, Art Director Ralph Eggleston and more. The piece runs about 30 minutes and includes new and older footage of recording sessions and other making of sections. The featurette does not have much in the way of movie clips, making it a nice look into the films creation. The Making of “FernGully” is the original 1992 piece that was probably used for marketing. It is basically a smaller version of the above, however there are some different behind the scenes footage included.
Also on disc two are some musical features, the first being Behind the Voice: “Toxic Love” which shows different sections of how said song was put together. It has the finished scene, rough animation of the scene, Tim Curry’s recording session, and a split screen of all three at once. Included as well is a music video of the song “If I’m Going to Eat Somebody (It Might as Well be You)” The rest of the features includes the Theatrical Trailers and the TV spots, three each of both, and eight Set-Top games, which are all easy to play and are good for kids, even though I don’t know of many kids that ever seem to play the games included on DVDs seeing as they almost all have video games instead.
This edition gives a good look into the movies creation through special features as well as presenting it in the aforementioned widescreen and full screen, always convenient. The movie conveys it’s environmentalist point without alienating anyone, a good use of subtlety. A good edition to any animated collection.
Commentary by Director Bill Kroyer, Coordinating Art Director Susan Kroyer, Art Director Ralph Eggleston
Seed of the Story: Script to Screen Comparison with Optional Commentary by Screenwriter Jim Cox:
1. Original Opening
2. Krysta Meets Batty
3. First Encounter
4. Hexxus' Instructions
5. Zak's Confession
Featurette: From Paper To Tree
Behind The Voice: “Toxic Love” (Multi-Angle)
Set Top Games: Creatures of the Rainforest, Sounds Of The Rainforest, Sound Pools, Save Batty!, Grow A Tree, Capture Hexxus, Pip's Pan Pipe, Out Of The Forest
Original Theatrical Trailers
Original Featurette (1992)
Music Video: "If I'm Gonna Eat Somebody It Might As Well Be You"