Spark may be a galactic adventure but it’s not quite out of this world and is far – light-years – from being adventurous. Nonetheless, it’s a harmless and fun children’s sci-fi about a teenage monkey who must fight to save his planet from an evil overlord. Despite most visual cues suggesting this is a low-budget animation, it somehow manages to boast an all-star cast including Jessica Biel, Patrick Stewart, Susan Sarandon and Hilary Swank. Sadly, that’s not quite enough to redeem this forgettable and unremarkable production. It will entertain the kids for 90 minutes on a rainy day but ultimately it’s just missing that, ahem, spark.
The titular character (voiced by Jace Norman) has been living on the desolate planet Garbage Shard for 13 years, separated at childhood from his parents and left to hang out all day with roaches and a robot named Bananny. Meanwhile, his friends Vix and Chunk fly out on mysterious missions without him – it’s actually a pretty tragic story. Naturally, one day whilst seeking adventure, Spark intercepts a message and unexpectedly lands in the middle of a planet-destroying debacle involving the evil but stupid King Zhong and a giant space kraken. Imminent danger calls for a hero, so what happens next is 95% formulaic and unoriginal.
There are a few fragments of flair, and certainly no shortage of silliness and banana puns to raise a chuckle at. With lines like “Without failure there is no growth”, the movie will also teach the kids some basic life lessons. However, the CGI is second-rate at best and whilst some recent animated efforts have been groundbreaking, Spark feels grounded like an extended TV episode on a satellite children’s channel from the noughties. Even the characters and protagonist aren’t hugely likeable. The exceptions are the adorable sidekick cockroach Floyd, the sassy Queen and perhaps the oddball Captain (Patrick Stewart), who changes his accent as frequently as he is struck by lightning.
Spark features the Force(ish), a lightsaber dummy and various other homages but it’s no Star Wars; animal martial arts but it’s no Kung Fu Panda; a scrapheap challenge but it’s no WALL-E. This is a planet of uninspired apes and King Zhong doesn’t have an ounce against Kong. It’s a “fun for the kids” film but not for the whole family.
Spark is released nationwide on 26th May 2017.
Watch the trailer for Spark here: