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Kai (voice of Jeremy Suarez) is a bored and lonely falcon living with his father, Tendai (Samuel L. Jackson) in a remote outpost. In defiance of his father, he ventures to the bird city of Zambezia where he meets the feisty black-shouldered Kite, Zoe (Abigail Breslin), adopted daughter of the city's founder Sekhuru (Leonard Nimoy). Kai learns the truth of his origins and how to be part of a community as he helps defend Zambezia from the take-over plot of the scavenging Marabous.

Review by Louise Keller:
The hairdressing salon in the bird city of Zambezia is one of the fun elements in this South African animation, in which the feathery plumes of a long-lashed bird, get a colour make-over in a powder shower puff. Visually, there are numerous highlights, like the grandeur of the majestic Victoria Falls, the spectacular red sunsets and a diverse mix of birds, whose colours and natures meld together like an artist's unruly palette. The film itself is a bit of a hybrid, trying too hard to be all things, although its heart is in the right place as it tells the story of a free-spirited falcon eager to spread his wings and find his place in the world.

Too many characters, too much dialogue and a cluttered storyline detract from the overall, making it hard to decipher who is who and what is going on. I struggled to get a handle on the various characters and the never-ending patter is a distraction. The 10 writing credits is a red alert - by the time four screenwriters consult with a script editor, script consultant, two creative development personnel plus additional story material, it is understandable that there is no clear through line to which the audience can cling.

The basic plot tells of the young falcon's adventures as he joins the top-gun of birds, the elite Hurricanes, in a bid to defend Zambezia against the giant lizards and foraging Marabous. It is in this quest that the loner, used to doing things his way, discovers the value of teamwork. The dialogue-free sequences are too few, but it is here that the film comes into its own, when long necks of dappled storks become entwined, baby chicks synchronise their wings and feathered high fives will genuinely delight its target audience.

Samuel L. Jackson and Leonard Nimoy head the voice cast while Jeremy Suarez and Abigain Breslin are fine as the young falcon and the feisty kite, drawn to each other during the adventure. Like the storytelling from first time director Wayne Thornley, Bruce Retief's music score is all over the place, combining the expected African rhythms with music that sits at odds. The inclusion of part of the traditional Irish tune Danny Boy is baffling.

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(US, 2013)

VOICES: Leonard Nimoy, Jeremy Suarez, Abigail Breslin, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson, Jenifer Lewisc Jim Cummings, Jamal Mixon, Richard E. Grant

PRODUCER: Mike Buckland, Stuart Forrest, James Middleton, Anthony Silverston

DIRECTOR: Wayne Thornley

SCRIPT: Andrew Cook, Raffaella Delle Donne

EDITOR: Luke MacKay, Michel Smit, Paul Speirs

MUSIC: Bruce Retief


RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Vic/Qld: March 28, 2013; NSW/ACT/SA: April 11, 2013; WA/Tas: April 18, 2013

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