Kuhmba is the story of a young Zebra’s struggle for self-actualisation at the risk of friends and family.
Kuhmba is set in the Great Kagoo Desert of South Africa and follows the journey of a young Zebra (Jake T Austin) leaving the safety of his herd to bring the rains back. On his way he is hunted by a supernatural leopard (Liam Neeson)and is accompanied by two sidekicks (a water buffalo played by Loretta Devine and an ostrich, Richard E Grant) through a myriad of disconnected scenes and trials, encountering a menagerie of uninspired played-for-laughs characters on the way.
The plot is almost non-existent, based around a notion so bizarre (that Kuhmba’s half striped half blank body has an effect on the weather) that it’s very difficult to empathise with the characters who believe it (which is all of them). The film plays with the notion of the supernatural but doesn’t focus on it leaving motivations and world building aspects unclear. Kuhmba goes through a series of separate encounters leading friends and family into danger again and again whilst instilling within them an unfounded hero worship and loyalty until the final show down with the leopard where he and Kuhmba fight it out and completely independently of anyone’s actions the rains come.
The whole film seemed lukewarm, never really committing to any theme powerful enough to pull the film together and even though it is set in South Africa it lacks a commitment to that too. If you’re going to have a film with magic in it, teach me about the vibrant and rich folk tales of the Kagoo, make it clear this film is celebrating not only the atheistic of the desert but the culture and history. I wanted this film to be told through the voices of people from south Africa, not for example, Catherine Tate, who’s cockney accented cameo was as immersion breaking as it was inexplicable.
The animation fluctuated too, with some characters rendered in beautiful muscle rippling, hair shifting detail and others looking like furry latex stretched over a frame.
The one thing I did enjoy about the film was the stunning love and care that had gone into creating the environment of the Kagoo desert itself. Inspiring colours and textures give a real sense of place, conjuring a character all of its own. The DVD extras allow you a little look behind the scenes, with interviews from the animators and a look at story boards and concept art, it is clear that the film was inspired by the environment and not the story. The disjointed journey reveals itself to be an excuse to cover as much of the fascinatingly diverse zones of the desert
Buy this DVD if you are interested in colour pallets or are thinking of taking a holiday to the Kagoo. If you are looking for a film with any kind of gripping plot with compelling characters, maybe just re-watch Toy Story 3.
Was ok but was not ok