FernGully: The Last Rainforest (30th Anniversary Edition) gets a new Blu-ray edition with a wealth of new and legacy bonus features.
Years before James Cameron unleashed Avatar onto the world, Bill Kroyer directed FernGully: The Last Rainforest at a time when animation was changing. The film may only be 76 minutes long but there’s still a fairy tale ending even if focuses on the environment. FernGully: The Last Rainforest never gets too preachy in getting its environmental message across.
After being told that humans no longer exist, a fairy, Crysta (Samantha Mathis) discovers that they do. She ends up accidentally shrinking Zak (Jonathan Ward), a human and a logger, down to fairy size in an effort to save his life. As Zak moves beyond the initial shock of what’s happening and starts feeling regret for his actions in destroying the rainforest, he teams up with Crysta to rally both the fairies animals in the rainforest and fight for their environment. It isn’t just the loggers that they’re going up against but a pollution entity, Hexxus (Tim Curry). You can blame Zak’s supervisors, Tony (Robert Pastorelli) and Ralph (Geoffrey Blake), for cutting down the tree. The rest is history.
Kroyer introduces the digitally restored edition with a 5 minute video. He discusses getting a message across via the film about the damage being done to rainforests. Kroyer says that all the plants and animals in the rainforest are real. “It’s really our world and it’s a world worth being saved.” This film is the result of hand-drawn animation art. In the opening intro, Kroyer discusses how this era of filmmaking is a thing of the past. There’s 16 tons of artwork in the movie, which is simply unbelievable. At the same time, the film also incorporated computer graphics with its 3D modeling and includes digitally painted animation. It’s right there as things are changing.
Before Aladdin was released in theaters, Robin Williams voiced Batty Koda in FernGully and sung a tune in the film, too. It’s funny how we think of Aladdin as being the first animated film to use stunt casting. Maybe its because they never really pushed his appearance in the film? In any event, it preceded the Disney film but just a few months and has a solid cast to boot. Williams recorded 14 hours of improv for what was supposed to be an eight-minute role. To no surprise, Williams gets a larger role. Behind the scenes, then-Disney exec Jeffrey Katzenberg did everything in attempt to stop FernGully in its wake. He even tried to stop the comedian from doing the film because of the upcoming Disney film. That didn’t happen so he went after the spaces they had rented. Katzenberg reportedly loved the film.
Elton John co-writes and sings the end credits song, “Some Other World.” It’s been so many years since watching the film that I forgot that he did animated films outside of The Lion King. Outside of the songs, Alan Silvestri composes the film’s score.
A direct-to-video sequel followed in 1998 but without any of the film’s original cast.
- NEW Introduction With Director Bill Kroyer, Including Never-Before-Seen Pencil, Character And Animation Tests
- Audio Commentary With Bill Kroyer, Art Director Ralph Eggleston And Coordinating Art Director Susan Kroyer
- “Seed Of The Story” – Script-To-Screen Comparison With Optional Commentary By Screenwriter Jim Cox
- “From Paper To Tree” – Making-Of Featurette
- “Behind The Voice: Toxic Love” – Multi-Angle Scene Study
- Original Featurette
- “If I’m Gonna Eat Somebody (It Might As Well Be You)” Music Video
- Theatrical Trailers And TV Spots
DIRECTOR: Bill Kroyer
SCREENWRITER: Jim Cox
CAST: Tim Curry, Samantha Mathis, Christian Slater, Jonathan Ward, Robin Williams, Grace Zabriskie
20th Century Fox released FernGully: The Last Rainforest in theaters on August 10, 1992. The film is now available on Blu-ray via Shout! Factory Kids. Grade: 3.5/5
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