Making the Grades
Walt Disney and Amblim (makers of E.T.) present a movie that tries to bring the plight of Africa's wildlife poaching problems to the rest of the world. After their parents are murdered by animal poachers, two teenagers are forced to work together to keep ahead of the men that want their lives as well. With the aid of a very handy bushman, they are foced to cross the Kalahari Desert to find a safe haven.
It's easy to make Africa look interesting, and this movie is no exception. However, I get the feeling this is our equivalent of Mounties on horseback that play hockey during their time off. Africa films always have good little bushmen, bad white guys with British accents, and lots of roving animals. It leaves you wondering if there isn't an overpopulation of elephants... they seem to be everywhere.
A Far Off Place makes a good attempt at showing the problems of wildlife poaching, and even with the press about the animal violence in this movie, the animal scenes were not as graphic as I was expecting, and only account for the first few minutes of the movie. The credits before and after reassure viewers that no animals were injured in any way. However, there is a good deal of violence involving humans, including a scene where Nonnie, the young girl, discovers her murdered parents. Although you don't see the shooting, the images may be bothersome for young viewers. The movie has an age recommendation from Disney for ages eight and up.
With a teen love story woven in, the environmental message is lost during the middle of the film as the three kids trek accross the desert. However, good moral standards are kept between the kids, and the predictable plot never lets you down, right to the end.
Although a few minor profanities in a Disney movie might come as a surprise, A Far Off Place offers a reasonably good story--with a stereotyped view of Africa.