2010 was one of the best years ever for animation. With the likes of How To Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and the irresistible Toy Story 3 raising the bar, 2011 has a lot to live up to. A Turtle’s Tale falls someway short of the mark, delivering impressive visuals and a good use of 3D but lacklustre characters and a bland, uninspiring story.
It follows Sammy (Dominic Cooper), a green sea turtle, from the day of his birth across 50 years as he struggles to find Shelly (Gemma Arterton) the love of his life, stay together with his best friend Ray (Misfits alumnus Robert Sheehan) and avoid a multitude of predators all of which are determined to make him their next meal.
In many ways, the aquatic environment is perfect for the 3D treatment – as objects can float, they can move in and out of peripheral vision effortlessly, but some of the more spectacular effects, though fun to look at will eventually result in eyestrain for even the most devoted lover of 3D.
Characters are good to look at – Sammy, with his bald head and big eyes looks as much like a human baby as it’s possible to do while being green and will no doubt elicit coos from younger audience members – but it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart (a peace sign painted on Sammy’s shell handily provides a visual cue when he’s swimming in amongst the others).
The animation is functional but nothing to write home about despite the realistic quality of the backgrounds but the 3D goes a long way to mask its deficiencies.
It has an admirable environmental message: Sammy travels the seas and witnesses the effects of humanity on the environment both for good and for ill, so when oil tankers are spilling their loads into the sea, humans are also on hand to clean up the mess.
Despite its commendable environmentalism Sammy’s adventures are largely innocuous and painfully dull: he swims from one location to the next, nearly gets eaten by piranhas, smothered by an oil spill and suffocated by a plastic bag but Sammy has none of the drive that Finding Nemo’s Marlin has and there are few memorable characters – director Ben Stassen is content to cobble together a patchwork of bit part accents which include a French cat, a Scottish seagull and an Irish turtle, plus a small cameo from Christine Bleakley as a substitute for personality.
This could be a problem created by language – it was originally recorded in French and has had both English and American re-dubs and as a result the dialogue doesn’t flow quite as smoothly as it might have done.
It might be pretty to look at but A Turtle’s Tale is about as engaging as a glorified screensaver and really only fit for one thing. Turtle soup anyone?