Title: Khumba

Directed by: Anthony Silverston

Starring: Jake T. Austin, Liam Neeson, Steve Buscemi, AnnaSophia Robb, Laurence Fishburne, Richard E. Grant, Loretta Devine

Running time: 85 minutes, Not Rated, Available on Blu-ray 3D and DVD

Special Features: Behind the Scenes Featurette; Acting Out- Character Evolution; The Karoo – A World of Difference; Nora – A Great Partnersheep

Khumba (Jake T. Austin) is a young zebra that was born with only half his stripes. Teased by the rest of the herd, blamed for the drought and his mother’s death by his father Seko (Laurence Fishburne), he runs off into The Karoo, the vast land outside the safety of their secluded watering hole.  There Khumba meets a wildebeest named Mama V (Loretta Devine) and a flamboyant “ostracized” ostrich named Bradley (Richard E. Grant) who care for the young zebra on his quest to find a legendary watering hole that was told to him by a mystical praying mantis that will bring all the desert animals together so they may all live in harmony. The only thing in their way is a half-blind leopard name Phango (Liam Neeson) whose keen sense of smell makes him the deadliest predator in the Karoo.

The good:  Help me I’m poor, so I don’t have the nifty 3D player to see all the bells and whistles, but the animation is decent.

The bad: It’s eerily similar to The Lion King, but without the majestic soundtrack by Sir Elton. Kind of hard for screenwriter Jonathan Roberts to stray away from familiar territory I guess. Khumba isn’t necessarily blamed for the wrongs in the world and the death of a parent, but his father only seems to express his affections toward his son when he’s not around. Much like Simba, he comes across a “fatty and skinny” comic relief duo that take him under their wing and help him learn how to appreciate himself for being different from the rest of the herd. Instead of a mystical baboon, he encounters a mystical praying mantis. Then when Khumba has to duel with Phango, they have a dramatic fight to the death in view of all the animals…and there was much rejoicing. The dialogue is awkward at times. I can’t tell if the actors are having trouble improvising, or if they’re going by the script.

It is a bit long as my eyes started to droop about 3/4 of the way in, but since a lot of kids are easily entertained by pretty colors and cutesy characters, they’ll probably eat it up. The parents will like it because there’s hardly any annoying musical numbers and when they come up, they’re always brief.  The score isn’t bad for the budget either.

Total Rating: C+

Reviewed by: JM Willis

Khumba Blu-ray