Making a film is never an easy undertaking. A significant level of effort and incompetence has to be achieved to make Adam Sandler’s debacle-fest Pixels look respectable and Jack White’s voiceovers feel like Stephen Fry reciting William Dunbar. Somehow Robinson Crusoe manages to realise both of these with consummate ease.
Robinson Crusoe is a vague recitation of the classic Daniel Defoe tale of a man shipwrecked alone on a remote island. This particular version is told by Crusoe’s parrot friend Tuesday to an audience of mice on a pirate ship following Crusoe’s temporary rescue at the hands of cut-throats. Tuesday tells how the marooned Crusoe befriends a bunch of local animals and describes their consequent attempts to fight off the invasion of a pair of hostile ratting cats from the wrecked ship.
Over recent years, the animation world has become increasingly tough to impress in. Aardman have consistently wowed their audiences with intricate attention to facial expressions and tragic comic characters, Pixar have reduced people to messy tearful heaps with wonderful character development, charming storylines and razor-sharp scripts. Japanese anime, under the sadly imminently defunct watchful eye of Studio Ghibli, oozes big-eyed beauty and will eternally stand alone, and Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells have carved out a careful Gaelic splendour of their own. Robinson Crusoe positions itself a lifetime away from any of these; hobbling someplace between motorway service station bargain bins and Amazon Prime Instant Video freebies. It’s disappointing to witness animation studio nWave regressing so acutely after the promising start of Turtles Tale 2 and the slightly less impressive House of Magik; this utterly abomination doing them no favours whatsoever.
The alleged narrative is appalling rectilinear. Crusoe is shipwrecked. He meets initial hostility from the indigenous animals before making friends with them. Shortly afterwards he finds himself fighting alongside his new found buddies against the belligerent felines. Crusoe wins out. Credits.
Robinson Crusoe isn’t helped by the most derivative, aggravating set of characters put to screen for years. Crusoe, a feeble visual rehash of Arthur from Arthur Christmas, is so overtly useless that instead of welcoming slapstick laughs, his miserable failure and subsequent drowning would be gratefully received. Torrance’s Kiki comes across as an arrogant, self-sure Brooklyn street upstart who needs a clout, and dreamy parrot Tuesday gives Blu from Rio the charm and depth of Michael Corleone. Scrubby, the elderly goat with deficient hearing and eyesight spends the entire film asking ‘What was that? He’s said what?!?’, undoubtedly styled as a hilarious running joke, yet feeling lethargic and tiresomely monotonous.
Kesteloot, Stassen and team have somewhat impressively produced a film without a single redeeming feature. Robinson Crusoe offers nothing to any demographic and is about the most worthless and infuriatingly substandard release this year. Defoe would find Davy Jones’s locker, get himself comfortable and turn in his own watery grave. Dreadful.
1 / 5
Dir: Vincent Kesteloot, Ben Stassen
Scr: Vincent Kesteloot, Ben Stassen
Cast: Yuri Lowenthal, David Howard, Lindsay Torrance, Debi Tinsley, Jeff Doucette
Prd: Gina Gallo, Mimi Maynard, Domonic Paris, Ben Stassen, Caroline Van Iseghem
Music: Tony Blondal
Country: France, Belgium
Run Time: 90 minutes
Robinson Crusoe is in cinemas now