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  • Writer's pictureGuy Jeffries


Director: Carlos Saldanha.

It’s Blue Sky’s 12th feature length animation, after the successful Rio and Ice Age franchises sticking with the animated, personified animals theme; this time based on the illustrated children’s book of the same name; well, The Story Of Ferdinand, the bull that would rather sniff flowers than fight in the bullring.

I never made the connection until after watching the film, nor do I remember ever reading the book or seeing the 1938 Disney short animation; though when Sandra Bullock reads it to Michael Oher in The Blind Side I vaguely remembered something for the story.

The Book was written by American kiddie’s author Munro Leaf who wrote almost 40 books during this career; this one being his most famous which was first published in 1936. It was illustrated by the award winning children’s illustrator, Robert Lawson and the two had appeared to have created an instant classic that would almost rival Winnie the Pooh.

The film does steer closely to the original book only to elaborate on certain situations and adding more characters to bolster the story to allow more comical substance. But the very core of the story is kept in place. How Ferdinand is mistaken for a ferocious bull is honoured and is only stretched into a disastrous yet funny sequence and even the picturesque setting of the old Spanish city of Ronda is beautifully displayed. (Somewhere I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a couple of times; it claims to home to oldest bullring in the world.)

Cena and cast do very well in transposing themselves into the characters, Cena ironical playing a pacifist bull whilst being a famous and successful wrestler. Couldn’t expect anything less from McKinnon and she delivers perfectly, with this being her, what? Third animated feature? There’s quite a supporting cast and all the characters are superbly voiced.

The animation is good, but nothing groundbreaking and when stacked up against Disney’s Coco with an Oscar nomination, I can’t see this taking the award. (Personally I’m rooting for Loving Vincent.) Nick Jonas, Pitbull and Juanes provides a few catchy yet typical tunes for the soundtrack and John Powell composes a nice easy score enriched with Spanish guitars and orchestrated latino flavours but isn’t at all memorable.

I’m surprised Disney didn’t pick this up because it has all the hallmarks of a Disney film, there’s an emotional element, the moral lessons and even the trusted sidekicks for comic relief. It’s captivating and all the characters are incredibly likeable and there’s little actually bad about this film; It’s hard to find something to dislike, but it’s nothing more than a good animated family film.

Running Time: 8

The Cast: 8

Performance: 8

Direction: 8

Story: 8

Script: 8

Creativity: 8

Soundtrack: 7

Job Description: 8

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

71% 7/10

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