Sammy’s Great Escape
With a backdrop of crystal oceans and rich coral atolls, this winsome 3D sequel to 2010’s A Turtle’s Tale springs into action from the first scene, albeit with a not unfamiliar premise.
Leatherback and hunchback turtles, Sammy and Ray, are captured from their idyllic home, after being lambasted by hatchling-hungry seagulls. Seized by trading fishermen, the lifelong friends discover that their grandchildren, hatchlings Ella and Ricky, are prisoners onboard as well. The unlucky young turtles carry on to become the film’s leading characters and almost exclusively responsible for the storyline.
The peril-packed escape sequence is a visual highlight of the film, and allows for the introduction of one of the more comically fruitful characters, Lulu the charmingly deranged lobster. The split-personality crustacean lends some welcome edge and dimension to an occasionally frustrating alabaster script.
The body of the film takes place when the turtles are transported to a state-of-the-art aquarium, where we are introduced to a menagerie of characters, including a blob fish with a penchant for dying, two enamoured Latino hogfish, and the de rigueur villain, seahorse Big D. This character is a clever take on the familiar mobster figure, complete with phoney New York accent, however the potential cinematic poignancy is diluted somewhat, and the attempt to make him child-friendly comes across as dumbing down. In fact, this can really be said for the entire feature. Comedy is intermittent and sometimes lacking, replaced by strung out motion shots that make for unnecessary pauses in chronology, giving an impression of time-filling and ultimately undermining the film’s scope.
Directed by Belgian Ben Stassen, the overall vision of the film is commendable. Superb animation lifts the film from an otherwise creatively murky fate, and is not out of line with the work of animation giants PIXAR, creators of 2003’s box office smash Finding Nemo. This comparison does, however, leave the viewer with unrealistic expectations of the strength of the script and story, confronted instead with a redux of the cookie-cutter escapades family adventure viewers have become so used to seeing.
As much as this film is let down by its subtlety and reliance on cutesy imagery in place of substantial dialogue, the heart warming conclusion will appeal to its target audience, even if it doesn’t make a commercial splash.
Sammy’s Great Escape is released nationwide on 15th February 2013.
Watch the UK trailer for Sammy’s Great Escape here: