A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zoo Wars is a feature-length cartoon for kids that uses the Star Wars concept and a wide array of creatures from the animal kingdom to frame its story. The villains here make up The Mice Side; the heroes are The Nice Side. The powerful, missing "Chosen One" must be found and returned to the Zooverse to employ the power of "The Sauce" and save the Nice Side from its enemies. Created on a shoestring budget, "special effects," such as they are, limits violence to some rudimentary space battles, meteorite storm, laser fire, lightning, and a cackling rodent villain always seated at a console. There's some insult humor and name-calling (i.e., "silly," "ugly-face," "oh, shut up!"); a mention of "bladder syndrome."
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What's the story?
An opening crawl (inspired by Star Wars) in ZOO WARS reveals that the Zooverse is made up of heroes -- The Nice Side -- and villains -- The Mice Side. Boo Boo Squeal, leader of the evil Mice, declares his intention. Wielding the power of "The Sauce," Boo Boo seeks no less than universal domination over the world. The only thing standing in his way is the missing "Chosen One" a legendary warrior powerful enough to thwart BooBoo's plan. The first step for BooBoo is capturing the Princess Sparklefeather (Bobbi Maxwell), and forcing her to give up the whereabouts of the Chosen One. Meanwhile, on the Nice Side, Nuke Tiptoes (KJ Strock), a bored elephant in a dead-end coding job, hears a voice in his head that will change his life. Nuke has been tapped to rescue the princess, find the Chosen One, and save their world. Rounding up a team of rough-and-tumble accomplices, Nuke, a reluctant new hero, sets out on a mission to stop BooBoo and bring peace back to the Zooverse.
Is it any good?
Blaming the extensive awfulness of this movie on lack of funds lets off the filmmakers who want kids and their families to spend time and money on this leaden dud too easily. There's simply nothing to recommend here. The humor is based on regurgitating names of sauces (most of which kids won't recognize) and lame squabbles/insults between leading characters that seem endless. The animation is artless, amateurish, and boring. Most scenes consist of animals sitting in chairs in a straight line looking at the camera. It doesn't help that performances and writing are weak as well. With so many better movies available for at home viewing, it's important to help kids learn the value of quality filmmaking and avoid time wasters like Zoo Wars.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about using a classic story to create something new as the filmmakers did here with Zoo Wars. What are the advantages of transferring a concept and/or characters from a tried-and-true franchise like Star Wars to a new work? Think about such things as "name recognition" (marketing) and ease of building a story,
What element from Star Wars was represented by "The Sauce" in this movie? Did you recognize such phrases as "The Power of The Sauce," "The Sauce is used for good and evil," "All is Sauce"? Which character from Star Wars reminded viewers of Luke Skywalker?
Squeezy Whistle the squirrel was considered a "rogue" warrior. Why was he told "You have to take a stand" when he said he had "no side"? Do you think it's important to "take a stand" for a cause you believe in? Have you ever done that?
- In theaters: April 20, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: December 18, 2018
- Cast: KJ Schrock, Bobbi Maxwell
- Director: Evan Tramel
- Studio: WOWNow Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Robots, Space and Aliens, Wild Animals
- Run time: 70 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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