All Creatures Big and Small

ACBAS-ONIG-PosterGetting a straight answer on just what this film is appears to be a difficult task. It was a free film given away in June 2015 on Google Play (which I watched via YouTube on a day when my ‘net connection was working well), with a note there saying it was released to video on demand the same day as in theaters. As near as I can tell it was never released in theaters in the U.S., and IMDb’s box office page indicates no theatrical take… but the company credits page indicates distribution for theaters in other countries. It was produced in four different countries — Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Belgium — and it appears to be known by a different English title in every market and medium. On Google Play, it’s All Creatures Big and Small; on other home video formats and its alleged theatrical releases, it’s variously known as Ooops…. Noah is Gone, Two by Two: God’s Little Creatures, and Two by Two: Ooops… the Ark is Gone. Even the English voice cast is a little ambiguous, with two different voice casts listed on IMDb; I’ll be assuming the cast listed in the end credits is correct.

What’s reasonably easy to describe is the film itself. As some of the less-elegant titles above indicate, this animated feature is a story about Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood. Noah gets name-dropped briefly, but is never seen; the story’s focus remains solidly on the animals, and on a particular group of oddball creatures. Dave (Dermot Magennis) and his son Finny (Callum Maloney) are a pair of nestrians, creatures that look a bit like a platypus crossed with a parrot and a koala. Dave’s been moving them around constantly to find where they belong when they get the call to the ark. Only problem is when they get there… they find that they aren’t on the list.

ACBAS-0198

Don’t worry, being left behind isn’t the end of the world. That’ll come a few days later.

Dave hatches a plan to stowaway on the Ark by disguising himself and Finny as family members of the grymps, small and vicious catlike creatures. Hazel and her daughter Leah (Amy Grant and Ava Connolly) aren’t pleased with the attempt, but things naturally get out of hand and soon parents and children have to team up as the two kids are accidentally left behind when the flood arrives.

As stories go, it’s not a complex one, and it’s definitely aimed at young children. Finny is too deliberately cutesy (“Nestrians are great huggers!”) to appeal to most people as a lead character. The humor is mostly aimed at the juvenile level aside from a little bit of Dave’s neuroses and some bureaucratic befuddlement from the lion in charge (Martin Sheen). The character arcs are standard (the neurotic Dad learns to be less nervous, the kid grows up a bit, the semi-hostile characters become friendly), and the plot is fairly one-directional: get the kids back on the Ark. There’s one good surprise in the film, but there are a few which are intended to be and aren’t. For example, when the kids meet Obesey, a large limbless creature who has trouble moving on land, even a small child should be able to figure out what he really is.

ACBAS-0482

Clearly he’s some kind of eagle.

Still, a simple plot doesn’t mean a bad one. It’s moderately entertaining, even if it’s short on surprises. But the film’s strong point is probably in its animation; while it won’t “wow” anybody who is experienced with the work of Pixar or Dreamworks, it’s still quite competent — showing that even small studios can do quite a bit nowadays with computer graphics. Character animation is fluid, and combined with the character design does a lot for establishing personalities. The water animation — important in a film about the Great Flood — looks great. And there’s a lot of well-used set design to keep things visually interesting.

It’s not a great film, and if you miss the boat on seeing it, you aren’t missing much. But it’s enjoyable and would probably appeal quite well to small children.

Rating: 3 Stars

Advertisements

About Morgan R. Lewis

Fan of movies and other media
This entry was posted in Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to All Creatures Big and Small

  1. Nostra says:

    Over here it had a dutch title which basically translates to “Animal Boat”. Although the movie wasn’t very good, it was the very first cinema experience for my daughter, which makes this movie special to me. Will make sure to put a review up describing her experience.

Leave a comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s