The Wild was one of a host of seemingly interchangeable animated films that came out in 2006. Animated films are some of the most profitable in cinema these days and 2006 almost felt like it reached a market glut for family-oriented animated films with the likes of The Ant Bully (2006), Barnyard (2006), Flushed Away (2006), Happy Feet (2006), Ice Age 2 (2006), Open Season (2006) and Over the Hedge (2006). In fact, these were so near-identical that it was virtually impossible to tell the trailers for some of the films apart.
The Wild has striking resemblances to Dreamworks Madagascar (2005), which came out almost exactly one year earlier. Both films start out at the New York Zoo and concern various talking zoo animals escaping into the wilds where they struggle to fit into their natural environment. The hero in both films is also a lion. You could perhaps also see occasional similarities between The Wild and Pixars Finding Nemo (2003) in the comparable tales of a father setting out on a quest to rescue his son. Alas, The Wild suffered considerably in release, garnering a host of dismissive Madagascar 2-type reviews. These were perhaps unfair in that The Wilds script was in development a whole nine years earlier, well before Madagascar ever appeared on screens.
To the contrary of most of the views out there, The Wild is not too bad an animated film at all. The quality of animation is stunning. C.O.R.E. have given the film a near-photographic realism that makes it one of the most breathtaking of the seasons batch of animated films. Particularly stunning are the backgrounds of New York City when the animals ride through the streets on the back of a truck the effect is of watching a dazzling 3D diorama of the city that has been painted on the full breadth of the widescreen. The opening sequence, which depicts Samsons tale of facing beasts in the wild, comes in an amazingly range of Day-Glo colours that are quite unlike any piece of animation one has seen before.
The Wild comes with a balance of endearing humour that is hard to dislike. The character arcs are all standard and as expected the revelation of Samsons over-hyped exploits are predictable. One of the fun things about the film is the range of eccentric characters that come packed around the edges Indian-accented pigeons; blonde pigtailed Germanic ladybugs; Mafioso crocodiles living in the sewers; a horde of wildebeest led by a mad messiah (voiced by no less than William Shatner who gets to do James Cagney impersonations as he goes down) who wants to become the top of the food chain; chameleon secret agents that come in an eye-watering splurge of pastel colours; the scene-stealing Hyrax that gets peeved and demands to be eaten; and of course Eddie Izzards appealingly likeable koala.