Jul 14, 2014

Review: Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages [Kirikou and the Wild Beasts] (2005)

Kirikou et la sorcière was a surprise hit when it was released in 1998. Director Michel Ocelot was smart to oppose any sort of sequel to Kirikou because capturing that kind of magic wouldn't be easy to accomplish and would most likely just feel exploitative. Ocelot was eventually convinced to release something that isn't exactly a sequel, but a midquel. Essentially, Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages is a series of short episodes that take place in between the events of Kirikou et la sorcière. Not a bad compromise for Ocelot.

The film opens with some narration from the grandfather of Kirikou (Robert Liensol) who explains that the previous story was too short and there wasn't enough time to showcase the great things that Kirikou did. There are four short episodes, about twenty minutes each that feature Kirikou in some new adventure that can be watched even by those who haven't seen Kirikou et la sorcière.


Genre: animation, adventure, family
Directed by: Michel Ocelot, Bénédicte Galup
Produced by: Didier Brunner
Written by: Philippe Andrieux, Bénédicte Galup, Marie Locatelli, etc
Music by: Manu Dibango
Running time: 75 minutes
Production company: Les Armateurs, Jet Media, Armada
Distributed by: Gébéka Films
Country: France
Language: French
Budget: €4,810,000
Box office: €16 677 850 (France)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Pierre-Ndoffé Sarr, Awa Sene Sarr, Robert Liensol, Marie-Philomène Nga, Emile Abossolo M'bo, Pascal N'Zonzi, Marthe Ndome, Emilie Gaydu, Gwénaël Sommier, Alex Carrete, Yanis Durancy, Jean Bediebe




The first story shows the villagers now taking advantage of the water source that Kirikou was able to unblock from Kirikou et la sorcière. They plant some crops that they find mysteriously destroyed afterwards. The second story features the villagers using the soil of their settlement to transform into pottery. Kirikou and a group of villagers plan to trade their product for food and money. The third story has Kirikou discovering some mysterious tracks in his village that would seem to indicate some sort of three-legged bird. Everyone scoffs at him but Kirikou continues to investigate. The final story tells the tale of the women in the village tasting a beer that has been newly brewed. The following day, all the women have fallen sick from a poison that was in the beer and Kirikou is forced to find the cure which is of course found in Karaba's domain.


To be honest, Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages lacks the charm of the original film. The episodes are nice stories I suppose but the movie as a whole seems to lack the patience and confidence of the first one. It feels choppy as a whole and not because the narrative moves between individual stories. Scenes cut quickly and there's a lot of narration without being actual narration. For example, Kirikou at times will narrate everything that he's doing which really doesn't seem necessary.

I suppose that this is to turn the film even more child friendly than the first one was. Kirikou et la sorcière is indeed a kid's movie but it was also very accessible to adults. Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages doesn't follow that route. Even the humour is more suitable for kids. The voice acting is passable but has changed from the first film, with quite a bit of turnover. Kirikou for example is not voiced by the same actor and the same goes for quite a few other prominent role which is a shame.

The animation is still quite nice and features some beautiful scenery of West Africa. There aren't as many moments where the scenery is really showcased as in Kirikou et la sorcière but there are some. As a whole, Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages doesn't quite have that storybook likeness but it's pretty close. There is also some good learning to be had for kids about Africa like irrigation, pottery making and more.

Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages is disappointing in the sense that it doesn't come close to matching the magic that Kirikou et la sorcière was able to create. Kirikou et la sorcière was a pretty straightforward movie and Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages is even more straightforward which is a step backwards in my opinion. This makes Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages more child friendly but less charming and less engaging as a whole.



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