Follow The Blue Elephant on a breathtaking journey, complete with endearing characters, belly laughs and an uplifting message about the power of courage. Khan is a little elephant with big dreams of becoming a hero. When he gets separated from his herd, he'll need the help of his new friends and a whole lot of bravery to find his family and fulfill his royal destiny.
Something must have gotten lost in translation, because it’s hard to fathom how, watching this US version of Thailand’s first 3D animated feature film, The Blue Elephant (otherwise known as “Khan Kluay” in its original Thai release) actually became the highest-grossing Thai film of 2006. No doubt its visuals are cute and colourful, but I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone above the age of ten.
Yes, though it’s nice to look at, The Blue Elephant lacks an engaging story to keep your attention and despite its beautiful images, you’ll soon find yourself bored. In fact, you can even sum up its story in just one line- a young elephant (a blue one), Khan Kluay, wanders away from his mother one day and grows up to become the war elephant for King Naresuan during his epic battle with Burma.
That bit of Ayutthaya-era history thrown in does make things slightly more interesting but seeing as how this is meant for the kids, don’t expect anything more than a skim. Instead, the movie actually feels like two disjointed halves- the first with several cutesy scenes of the young Khan Kluay and the second with the grown-up Khan preparing for that final showdown against the evil Burma enemy.
While you can safely leave your kid to watch the first half, I’d recommend you sit with him/her during the latter half. Particularly worrying is the depiction of a giant Burmese war elephant that Khan battles in the film’s climatic fight, an elephant monstrous in size with glowing red eyes that may just upset the tots.
You’ll also have to excuse the crude animation, especially during the battle scenes at the end. While the individual stills are pretty, there certainly needs to be much more work done in animating them into a series of moving images. As it stands, it’s only slightly better than Singapore’s own maiden efforts at animation a la Legend of the Sea (2007) or Zodiac: The Race Begins (2006).
There isn’t much character development as well, each character as one-note as the next. Not even the talented voice cast of Miranda Cosgrove, Carl Reiner and Martin Short can make the characters more interesting, burdened as they are by the sometimes cringe-worthy dialogue. I suppose then that its local box office success must have driven Hollywood to decide to do an English-language version of it, because watching the film, I can’t find any reason why anyone should bother.
The film is presented in 4:3 to fit your standard TV screen so it feels more like a Saturday-morning cartoon than a feature film animation. Visuals are clear and sharp, and the disc does a fine job in bringing to life the colours of the movie. The Dolby 5.1 audio is also a treat, especially during the battle scenes.
Review by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 11 June 2009