Image Entertainment // 2010 // 49 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dawn Hunt // May 5th, 2013
Experience the lush splendor of Africa and all its wonders in Large Format perfection!
Jana (Eva Gerretsen) meets young orphan Kabbo (Michael Van Wyk) but before their friendship can truly blossom he returns to his homeland in Africa. Determined to find him, she embarks on a journey which takes her throughout Africa, where she meets a young boy, Mel (Raymond Mvula), and several magical creatures that help her learn about some of Africa's most special animals and landscapes.
The problem with Magic Journey to Africa (Blu-ray) is the story really isn't as simple or as connected as it seems. I've condensed it for sanity's sake. To really get into the story, spoilers and all, would be as confusing to read as it was to watch. A complex story isn't needed. The visuals are spectacular, the aerial photography really pops and the special effects are as well-incorporated as you could want.
The jumbled and clunky story is supposed to be joining the visuals together, but it honestly doesn't work for me. The point of each of Jana's encounters is for the viewer to see Africa, be it the landscapes or a different animal such as a lion or an elephant. I would have been happier to see each encounter as separate.
Forcing the story of this little girl who wants to find a boy she's shared less than two minutes of screen time with doesn't connect on any level. Especially when -- SPOILERS -- she never finds him.
The kids are all fine actors and I was surprised this was their first film. They came across as novices but not completely new to film work. The voice work is the most convincing of the acting, but the live shots of the animals and landscapes are without a doubt the best parts of Magic Journey to Africa (Blu-ray).
The 1.78:1 high definition widescreen transfer is as beautiful as you could wish for, with the 1080p really projecting the best palette and quality. The audio is overkill in the best possible way with three DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio tracks. The only technical issue I have is the lack of subtitles. There are some African dialects spoken, and I would like to read what they were saying.
The special features, two behind the scenes featurettes, are actually pretty interesting. I enjoyed watching how they were able to wrangle the animals and also the shots of the locations, which were spectacular. Also included is a 3D version of the film.
I'm torn about recommending this. I believe only young kids are going to connect, mainly because they won't care about the story problems. The short runtime means anyone can put up with it, so parents looking to introduce their kids to a new continent will be able to bear it. The visuals are what sold me on Magic Journey to Africa (Blu-ray) but the disorganized story keeps me from giving it a glowing review.
Guilty of muddling up amazing visuals with a disjointed story.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (French)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Spanish)
Running Time: 49 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* 3D Version