Suspended Animation: Our Review of ‘Terra Willy’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - February 21, 2020
Suspended Animation: Our Review of ‘Terra Willy’

If you were wondering whether France could make CGI-animated films as banal and generic as Americans do, well yes, yes they can. Case in point: Terra Willy, a new family space adventure about a boy and the rambunctiously cute creature he befriends on an unexplored planet far, far away.

Sometime in the future, young Willy lives with his scientist parents on a fully-automated high-tech spaceship. I’m not really sure where they are or what the purpose of their mission is but no matter – Willy seems to be able to keep himself occupied with all manner of technology and virtual reality games at his disposal. But when the ship gets caught up and damaged in an asteroid belt, Willy is split up from his parents and sent off safely in a pod for them to retrieve him later.

Equipped with a trusty robot helper named Buck, Willy’s pod lands on an unknown planet in order to wait for his parents. But with no idea of how long it will take for them to find him and various hostile life forms emerging all around, Willy quickly needs to adapt to his surroundings and learn how to survive on his own.

Setting itself up like a kid’s version of The Martian, Terra Willy ultimately doesn’t actually contain all that much danger. After getting into some minor dustups with a pack of angry rock monsters, he befriends and bonds with a sprightly yellow creature that he names Flash. This ends up becoming the central thrust of the story, putting any thrills on the backburner until a rushed climax hastily wraps everything up. Banking heavily on the cuteness factor of Willy’s new friend, there isn’t really much here for anybody but very young viewers.

Created by the team responsible for a popular animated French children’s show called “The Jungle Bunch”, Terra Willy just doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The animation is vibrant in places but mostly dull and derivative, utilizing those creepy hollow eyes that make every character look dead inside. The outer space setting just ends up inviting comparisons to Wall-E and other better films that actually succeeded in immersing you in their eye-catching future worlds.

And to make matters worse, the English dub that has been slapped on Terra Willy for its North American release is extremely poor. I know distributors don’t think that dubs are as noticeable for animated films, but the mouth movements are still designed for the original French-language, resulting in a weird disconnect for each line of dialogue. I guess young children won’t really care, but anyone over the age of 10 will notice something’s off.

The whole thing just ends up reeking of an attempt to trick families into coming out to see some big, flashy, new animated extravaganza. But Terra Willy isn’t anything they won’t already find on Saturday morning television.

This post was written by
After his childhood dream of playing for the Mighty Ducks fell through, Mark turned his focus to the glitz and glamour of the movies. He's covered the extensive Toronto film scene for online outlets and is a filmmaker himself, currently putting the final touches on a low-budget (okay, no-budget) short film to be released in the near future. You can also find him behind the counter as product manager of Toronto's venerable film institution, Bay Street Video.
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