Blue Sky Studios has given audiences the Ice Age saga, Rio, The Peanuts Movie and Robots. Now the studio tackles a short story about a big Bull, with an even bigger heart. Starring the voices of WWE star John Cena, alongside Kate McKinnon, David Tennant and Bobby Cannavale. Ferdinand proves a sweet tale for youngsters but feels too familiar to make an impact with a wider audience.
In a world where Bull’s dream of fighting a Matador in the ring, young Ferdinand, (Cena) just wants to smell flowers in the meadow. The outsider in his heard, he runs away and finds a home with farmer Juan and his young daughter Nina. Ferdinand grows into the biggest, strongest Bull and his size eventually scares those who do not know him. He is taken away from his family and once again must face the prospect of fighting in the ring. Will he fight or stand his ground?
Based on ‘The Story of Ferdinand’ by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson, the film has been expanded from the short story and directed by Carlos Saldanha. The Blue Sky Studios veteran has previously directed both Rio films as well as Ice Age and the Academy Award nominated short, Gone Nutty.
The film starts off strong though elements of the film feel very familiar. The bulls’ wanting to escape their fate feels similar to Chicken Run, including a slaughter house rescue scene. The story is also held back by stock comedy characters.
Ferdinand aims to create as much humour as possible. Although the more subtle jokes and puns hit the right notes, much of the comedy does not. Characters such as Lupe the Goat and the Austrian Horses are overkill. They pad out the film unnecessarily, slowing the pace. Despite the unoriginality of the film, Ferdinand proves to be a likable lead to follow. He is a kind-hearted soul who inspires those around him to be themselves.
In terms of animation, this is more of the same style for Blue Sky. Filled with cute characters and settings, their work lacks the greater detail and texture of their competitors. Over all the landscape feels flat without the necessary any depth.
John Cena continues his reputation as a gentle giant with his vocal performance. He makes Ferdinand a kind and righteous character that audiences will like. The film is also a tender way to address the controversial subject of Bull Fighting. By giving Bulls a sweet persona, the film questions the moral implications of such a ‘sport’ to a young audience.
A sweet and friendly family tale. The comedy overkill and unoriginality mean the film is more suited to a younger audience. Still Cena makes Ferdinand a lovable lead.
Ferdinand is out in cinemas now!