A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures (2010)

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Sometimes you wonder if people making a movie for kids just start to think that they can put anything onscreen, as long as it’s colourful and pretty enough to occupy the youngsters while the parents have some peace and popcorn. This movie isn’t quite THAT bad but it’s certainly a few rungs down the ladder of quality and will really only appeal to the really young audience members (it’s far too sweet and innocent and lacking in humour to fully engage anyone past the 10 year old mark, I’d wager).

The plot is described by the title. We meet Sammy the turtle, just as he hatches and begins his life of travel and adventure; a life that will see him sometimes in danger, sometimes in human company and constantly in love with Shelly, a female turtle he inadvertently saved from becoming a bird’s meal minutes before they were separated from each other. Sammy also sees the impact on the planet that humans have, and aren’t we just a big, bad bunch of polluters.

With a vocal cast that includes, for us viewers here in Britain, John Hurt, Dominic Cooper, Gemma Arterton, Christine Bleakley, Robert Sheehan and Kayvan Novak it would seem that everything is in place for a fun movie but, sadly, the clumsy script and poor characterisations end up letting everyone down. Hurt is excellent as the elderly, and wiser, Sammy of the here and now while Cooper is okay as the younger incarnation. Arterton is actually more appealing in animated turtle form than I usually find her in real life so well done to her for her performance as Shelly. As for Bleakley and Sheehan, they’re not terrible but the fact that both hail from the Emerald Isle leaves you wondering just how many Irish turtles are out there and just what the odds are of them all sticking together. The least said about Novak’s excruciating French accent the better, a great shame as I really liked Novak in Four Lions.

The script by Domonic Paris is very simplistic stuff, with life lessons dotted here and there, a mix of obstacles to be overcome and characters without real character.

Director Ben Stassen completely underwhelms in almost every area. The pacing doesn’t feel right, there are very few animated textures that impress and the only pleasure to be gleaned comes from the few moments of smooth animation. Having said that, this film is improved by the 3D aspect. A film should be rated as good or bad, regardless of how any gimmicks bolster the thing, but considering how much this is aimed purely at the youngsters I’d have to highly recommend letting them enjoy the many moments that are designed to take them on an underwater adventure.

Highly disappointing but safe and sweet for undemanding children who have not yet started to require anything cool or edgy added to their fun.

Released on 18th July 2011 here in the UK, Sammy will be in 3D on DVD and Blu-ray and will provide some amusement for kids when the inevitable rain comes down during the sumer holidays. A Sainsbury’s exclusive version of the disc comes complete with b-roll footage, almost 15 minutes of the stars gurning and repeating lines, and interviews with the main actors involved (6 different talking head clips featuring nothing all that interesting and a lot of questions simply repeated to each actor).

DIRECTOR: BEN STASSEN
STARS: DOMINIC COOPER, GEMMA ARTERTON, JOHN HURT, ROBERT SHEEHAN, CHRISTINE BLEAKLEY, KAYVAN NOVAK
RUNTIME: 88 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: BELGIUM

Film Rating: ★★½☆☆

DVD Rating: ★★★☆☆

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