Adventures in Zambezia



Colorful, comic bird tale with lots of cartoon action.
  • Review Date: August 26, 2013
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Takes a look at the bright colors, sounds, music, and animals associated with Africa, identifying various birds native to the continent (peregrine falcon, weavers, marabou).

Positive messages

Clearly shows the positive results of teamwork, loyalty, a sense of adventure, and living in an inclusive society. Parents learn that they can't protect their offspring by keeping them close and restricted, but must let them "fly."

Positive role models

Though the film's hero is initially disobedient, he proves himself to be honorable, courageous, and effective. His dad, who is fearful about his son's growing up, learns about letting go and striking a balance between safety and freedom. One female lead proves to be as brave and resourceful as her male counterparts, though other females tend towards stereotype.

Violence & scariness

Lots of cartoon action. The chief villain is a scary, toothy monitor lizard who is always threatening and is on an evil quest -- he wants to eat all the eggs in Zambesia. His henchmen are designed more comically, but they, too, assault the heroic bird community. One villainous bird falls to his death as his brother watches. A young falcon hears about the death of his mother who gave her life so that he might live. There are numerous swooping chases, falls, crashes, lots of pushing, shoving, and imprisoning captive innocents. The finale is an extended battle scene as the lizard and his followers attempt to invade Zambezia and the citizens fight them off.  

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Adventures in Zambezia should appeal to most kids who like animal characters with personality and humor, and a story with some suspense. Set in Africa, the movie introduces bits of the geography, language, and melodies of the continent, as well as many native birds and creatures. Best for kids who can distinguish cartoon violence from real violence, as there's plenty of action (chases, captures, a vicious monitor lizard) to go with the bright, colorful animation and a mostly conventional story. At the heart of the tale is a young peregrine falcon who, in the course of the film, learns about the death of his mother. In addition, one villainous marabou falls to his death as his brother watches. There are lots of positive messages about teamwork, inclusiveness, and growing up. 

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What's the story?

Though little Kai (voiced by Jeremy Suarez) has a dad, Tendai (Samuel T. Jackson), who wants to keep him close by and safe from harm, the young African peregrine falcon desperately wants to explore and experience the world. So in ADVENTURES IN ZAMBEZIA, Kai takes off on his own, headed for the island of Zambezia where all species of native birds live in a bright-colored paradise.

When he meets the lovely young kite Zoe (Abigail Breslin), her dad, the island leader Sekhuru (Leonard Nimoy), and the comical stork Go-Go (Jeff Goldblum), Kai is astonished to learn that he was born on Zambezia, and that his mother died there while saving Kai's life. Soon the little falcon joins The Hurricanes, the island's elite warrior squadron, when both Zambezia, and his father are threatened by Budzo, an evil monitor lizard and his band of outrageous marabou.

Is it any good?


Though the story isn't terribly original, the storytelling is. Kids will like Kai; they'll root for Zoe, Sekhuru and company; and they'll be moved when Kai and his dad are re-united. Characters are well-defined (even the villains have distinctive personalities), the music and sounds of Africa add charm and a degree of authenticity, and there's enough action to keep adventure-lovers happy.

Going straight to DVD in the US, even with A-list actors, engaging characters, and colorful, upbeat animation, this movie may be overlooked by home viewing families. That would be a shame, because it's a funny movie, with good messages and enthusiastic performances.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can discuss differences between being protected and safe and being over-sheltered and isolated. When it comes to safety can families agree about what is enough and what is too much? Take a look at the issue from the both the parent's and kid's point-of-view.

  • What were some characteristics of the movie that told you it took place in Africa? Talk about the music, the birds, and the settings. Create your own vision of Africa in a drawing; what other native animals might you include?

  • Who were the "outsiders" in this movie? What did the outsiders learn about belonging to a community?

Movie details

DVD release date:August 6, 2013
Cast:Abigail Breslin, Jeremy Suarez, Samuel L. Jackson
Director:Wayne Thornley
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Science and nature, Wild animals
Run time:82 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Adventures in Zambezia was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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