A load of bull – Ferdinand (Blu-Ray Review)

Since the turn of the century, Blue Sky Studios have been making animated films. Yes they’ve been dwarfed by the likes of Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks but they have always been there making fairly ok movies. But with animation movies improving all the time, Blue Sky do need to pull their socks up and make something great. Can Ferdinand be that great film?

Ferdinand (John Cena, Trainwreck) lives the good life with little girl Nina (Lily Day, First Feature Film) after escaping from a farm as a calf. However after accidentally running amok in the local town, he is sent back to the farm he was from and is forced to train as a fighting bull, something that is not in Ferdinand’s nature.

Sigh. We’re doing this again. Right, let’s get it over and done with then. On paper, there is nothing wrong with a children’s movie doing the message to be yourself. It is an important one that we should all remember and with there being new children all the time to watch these films, it’s a message they can get away with repeating without seeming lazy. Well, for children anyway.

The movie is not completely unfunny. While there are certainly cringeworthy moments that should have been left on the cutting room floor, this movie did not need to have a dance-off, there is plenty that will get kids laughing and might even get a chuckle from a parent absentmindedly watching while doing their ironing. Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters) is as usual a delight as calming goat Lupe. I’ll admit, the hedgehogs are definitely the prototypical scene stealers, think the penguins from Madagascar, but they are still funny from time to time.

This isn’t an animation power house but while they can’t make your jaw drop, they do make everything rather pretty. Things are helped here by the setting of Spain which allows the animators to have a bright blue sky overlook every scene.

But let’s get back to moaning about it, because that’s pretty easy to do. This is a movie that never gets out of third gear. It really has nothing new to give to the world but because there’s a few good things like the pretty animation and solid voice acting you are hoping that you will get something original at some point. But no, we just move from boring set piece to boring set piece. At the beginning we do have a scene where Ferdinand gets into a china shop, because of course they can’t resist making that joke. We have plenty of other things that we’ve seen in other animated movies like bullies who dislike the outsider, animals driving cars and of course an ending where everything is perfect, damn any sort of realism. It lacks anything new to give to us.

Ferdinand is just a bland children’s film. It has nothing new about it, it brings nothing to the table and will be forgotten as soon as you see it. Well, you might remember how it was butchered in the edit because some pencil pusher thought it might make a bit more money if it was rated U rather than PG. But in terms of a film for kids, it’s not outright terrible. It does execute all those tired clichés well and I can see those who haven’t endured them before enjoying the movie far more than a cynical old soul like me. I just wouldn’t recommend watching it with them or at least having a magazine to occupy you while you watch.

Dir: Carlos Saldanha
Scr: Munro Leaf, Robert Lawson, Ron Burch, David Kidd, Don Rhymer, Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle, Brad Copeland
Cast (Voices): John Cena, Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, Peyton Manning, Bobby Cannavale, Gina Rodriguez
Prd: Bruce Anderson, John Davis, Lori Forte, Joel Gotler, Lisa Marie Stetler, Chris Wedge
DOP: Renato Falcao
Music: John Powell
Country: USA
Year: 2017
Runtime: 108 minutes

Ferdinand is available on Digital Download on 10th April and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on 16th April