Sammy Great Escape 3D

 

Thanks a lot, Belgium. We were all well aware that, despite the general high standard of today’s family animations, crummy thrown-together cartoons are still routinely dumped before blameless children. Still, there was no need to demonstrate this truth so forcefully.

Bleary-eyed parents may remember – perhaps, after waking up in a deathly cold sweat – a largely useless 2010 film called A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures. Following treatment for repressed-memory syndrome, I called to mind something about a jolly aquatic reptile and his efforts, after being cast adrift, to seek out some sort of turtle paradise. It was cheap and nasty, but it passed the time well enough.

The sequel is, if anything, more at home to lazy anthropomorphism and cheap stereotyping. If I have the plot right, poachers grab two cute hatchlings and drag them to a luxury aquarium in some part of the Middle East. The huge tank looks nice enough, but an evil seahorse named Big D rules the place with savage efficiency. Sammy and his pals devise plans for escape.

Life is probably too short to worry about attitudes to race in cut-price Belgian cartoons. But the film does push the boundaries with its Rastafarian pirate and its sinister Middle-Eastern potentate. (We’ll say nothing about the unflattering depictions of seagulls. That lobby can fend for itself.)

All that said, Sammy’s Great Escape does deserve an extra star for it gloriously vulgar use of 3D. Forget all that Pixar hooey about taking an “immersive” approach to the medium. The film-makers here miss no opportunity to aggressively fling birds, fish and reptiles into the laps of their captive audience.

Little ones should avoid consuming too much fizzy pop. Parents should think twice before anesthetising themselves with a second gin. The effect offers more recreational nausea than the average rollercoaster. It’s like watching Life of Pi after a frontal lobotomy.

That’s a guarded recommendation by the way. Thanks, Belgium.

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