Aug 14, 2012|
Ever since the runaway success of Khan Kluay in 2006, Kantana Studio have firmly set their sights on taking the local animation industry to another level—something they well and truly achieve with Echo Planet, Thailand’s very first 3D animated feature film. The story starts deep in the Thai jungle where Norva (voiced by Nuengthida “Noona” Sophon), a teenage girl from a long-necked Karen tribe, takes care of her younger brother, Jorpe (Athipich “Kobgab” Chutiwatkajornchai), who has the special gift of being able to communicate with nature. The siblings join together to rescue Samuel Johnson Jr. (Nopphan “Micky” Chantarasorn), the son of the president of fictional country Capital State, after he becomes lost on a scout trip. Meanwhile, increasing global warming has put the planet at the mercy of an energy-hungry monster called B.U.C.T. The world’s leaders, including Sam’s dad, have decided to use a “cool bomb” to kill the monster, but the young trio believe this will only accelerate the end of the world. Looking to make the most of Jorpe’s special powers, they set off on an adventure to save the world by cutting off B.U.C.T.’s energy supply.
With the movie’s stunning animation, which really seems to transport you into the film, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching something created in Thailand and not Hollywood. For this, credit must go to director Kompin Kemgumnird who applies what he learned working on big studio productions like Disney’s Tarzan (1999) and Atlantis (2001) and Blue Sky Studio’s Ice Age (2002). But while the craftsmanship is there, the plot is a little patchy and lacks a certain zing. A character like Chepo, Jorpe’s tapir sidekick, was probably intended to be a loveable scene stealer like Scrat in Ice Age but comes across as simply unnecessary. The villain of the piece, B.U.C.T., is also rather under-thought, being more a scattering of mutated-gas than an actual character to elicit fear and scorn. We understand that the movie attempts to encourage people to consume less energy, and for that it should be roundly applauded, but a few tweaks to the script would have got this message across better, and really done the impressive visuals justice.