Forgettable animated adaptation of the Daniel Defoe classic
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Daniel Defoe’s adventure classic Robinson Crusoe? A long, lonely exile? A deserted beach? A boon companion in Man Friday? Apparently, when filmmakers Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen think about it their attention is drawn to the antics of two evil cats. In their animated adaptation, the scrawny, conniving felines are a bigger threat than pirates, cannibals or anything that humanity can possibly throw at our gawky, hapless hero.
This Crusoe is squarely aimed at the audience who were beguiled by Rio and Aardman’s The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, although it lacks the vibrancy of the former and the wit of the latter. It is more intrigued by the menagerie of animals who inhabit Crusoe’s desert island than by the man himself, which isn’t entirely surprising as Crusoe (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) is a bit of a green-gilled landlubber and not much of a compelling character. Instead, we have a discontented parrot, eventually dubbed Tuesday (David Howard), who longs to discover the wider world. His fellow islanders, including tapir Rosie (Laila Berzins) and echidna Epi (Sandy Fox) seem content with their lot, but the restless Tuesday laments, ‘How much paradise can a bird take?’. When Crusoe is shipwrecked, he could be the bird’s ticket to adventure if they can find a way to live in perfect harmony and thwart those darn cats of course.
Robinson Crusoe does make effective use of 3D, as birds swoop down on the viewer and creatures scamper along and dangle from the Heath Robinson-style contraptions that Crusoe has constructed around the island. There is some visual appeal and sporadic energy, but the lacklustre script and dull storytelling make for a blandly forgettable addition to an already overcrowded field of family entertainment.
General release from Fri 6 May.