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Ferngully the last rainforest ver1

If there were a Holy Trinity of Anvilicious children's animation of the early '90s, it would consist of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue... and Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.

FernGully, or to go by its full title, FernGully: The Last Rainforest, is a 1992 animated feature from 20th Century Fox, and is based on the children's book of the same title, written by Diana Young. It takes place in an Australian rainforest (though, strangely, none of the humans have an Australian accent). Within is the titular Magical Land, "FernGully", which is inhabited by a wide variety of Fairy Creatures. They are led by the wise Magi Lune, who is currently teaching her young protege, Crysta, the secrets of the forest. Here, Fairies believe that humans are extinct, having been last seen fleeing an attack by the spirit of destruction, Hexxus. But venturing outside FernGully, Crysta accidentally discovers a human logging operation. After meeting an insane fruit bat named Batty Koda (voiced by Robin Williams), and accidentally shrinking one of the humans, Zak, down to her size, Crysta has to face the accidentally released Hexxus (voiced by Tim Curry), who lives off pollution and threatens to destroy the forest.

FernGully did mediocre business at the box office, at least in comparison to that other animated film featuring Robin Williams that was released in 1992.

Like most other animated films of this time period that had any kind of success, FernGully spawned one very cheap direct-to-video sequel. That and the fact that it includes a song entitled "We're Having Funner Than The Funnest Fun" tells you everything you'd ever need to know about it...


This film contains examples of:

  • All Animation Is Disney: Tends to fall victim to it quite a bit. Yeah, it does look that good.
  • Animal Testing: Batty Koda's entire backstory.
  • Animation Bump: FernGully was done by a number of Asian, American and European studios, led by Kroyer Films; while neither Wang Film Productions or Hanho Heung Up were strangers to film by this point (having also worked together on The Care Bears Movie and Rover Dangerfield)[1], and Luk Film was the oldest out of all of them (albeit mostly in the colorization business), Saerom had not yet worked on a movie, and then-unknown outside of The Ren and Stimpy Show Rough Draft Studios was only about a year old at the time of the film's release, so it was definitely a challenge for both of them. Several other firms like Dutch company A. Film and American-based Available Light Productions (Responsible for effects and animation for films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Flight of the Navigator) helped out.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Hexxus, the Avatar of pollution. He resembles a cloud of oilsmoke with glowy red eyes and a brown mouth.
    • The film hints, ironically, that he is in fact a nature spirit of some kind (the introduction heavily implies that he was released from an erupting volcano).
      • Hexxus was the spirit of destruction. Most films like this have a balance with Hexxus representing the death and decay to balance growth and life represented by the fairies.
  • Artistic License Biology: Ignoring that trees don't have a nervous system and can't feel pain, the bark is made of dead cells. Zak carving on it would be no more painful than trimming your fingernails.
    • Batty's size is rather inconsistent. He's probably a fruit bat. But why is he only a little bit bigger than the fairies/Zak, who is seen to be small enough to be dwarfed by a Tape Walkman? Flying Foxes are the largest bats in the world. With wingspans up to six feet wide.
    • The sequel is even worse - he goes from a few inches taller than the faries, to about the size of a baby wombat, to big enough to carry a small girl. And back again.
  • Award Bait Song: "A Dream Worth Keeping."
  • Bare Your Midriff: Crysta.
  • Big Eater: Zak's coworker Tony (and it was Lampshaded). One scene shows him devouring an entire slice of cake in one bite. Another example is the singing goanna.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Zak has to leave the fairies and go back to his own people. He and Crysta never see each other again. It's sad, seeing as he has come to love the rainforest, and Crysta too. But hey, if the events of the film are any indication at least he can feel a tree's pain and see fairies...
  • Body Horror: Hexxus gets a tree grown out of him. Twice. The second time is much more graphic. Considering the roots burst out of his chest and fuse him into the trunk, it's got to hurt.
  • Broken Aesop: Averted - at first you're concerned that the movie is going to tell you that the fairies can take care of it. But Magi Lune is v ery explicit that with damage this extreme, there's very little she can do to fix it. Zak tells his friends that things have got to change.
    • In the sequel it's truly broken - a forest fire burns down a large part of the rainforest. The fairies set to work fixing it, and by the time the heroes return triumphant, things are almost back to normal.
  • Check, Please!: Uttered by Batty.
  • Conspicuous CG: The Leveler, first when Hexxus emerges and later when Batty and Zak fly around it.
  • Contemptible Cover: The newest DVD, with its creepy Off-Model artwork. Check it out, if you dare. The art on the DVD itself is incredibly off-model too - Zak looks 25.
  • Creator Cameo: One of the workers that reports to the Leveler, the one that says "Finito, good buddy," is the director Bill Kroyer.
  • Creator Provincialism: Only possible reason for the Australian setting and the Critical Research Failure below.
  • Cross-Cultural Handshake: In this case, Zak ends up introducing Crysta and Pip to shaking hands as a greeting; just seeing him extend his arm towards them, they do the same without even attempting to grasp his hand or arm back.
  • Crowd Song/That Reminds Me of a Song scene: If you'd like to see a bunch of magical beings dance to "Land of a Thousand Dances" for no reason at all, have we got a movie for you!
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Zak.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Batty Koda, usually around Zak.
  • Did Not Do the Research: The logging industry is not the biggest threat to the rainforests and the vast majority of the deforestation threat is not concentrated in Australia.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Arguably the whole movie. Only The Three Caballeros used a more vivid palette.
  • Disney Death: Batty, after he was hit by the headlight while flying. He was later woken up by Zak after being found lying on the ground.
    • Later, Crysta seems like she may not have made it after flying directly into Hexxus' mouth. She is later found unharmed after Hexxus is imprisoned once again.
  • Duck Season! Rabbit Season!:

 Batty: Nobody cares about me.

Zak: I do, Bat-Man!

Batty: You sure?

Zak: I'm positive.

Batty: Only fools are positive.

Zak: Are you sure?

Batty: I'm positive!... I fell for it! I should have known!

 Batty: (after the antenna on his head was shorted out by Zak) "Price check on prune juice, Bob! Price check on prune juice!"

  • Evil Brit: Tim Curry in the first film. Also, in the sequel, the only people in the entirety of Australia with an Australian accent is the evil poachers.
  • Evil Laugh: Hexxus loves to do this. It gets creepy when starts to sound demonic and distorted towards the end of "Toxic Love".
  • Evil Tastes Good: Just listen to Hexxus in the "Toxic Love" number.
  • Faeries Don't Believe in Humans, Either: The fairies are surprised by the arrival of Zak, arguably more so than he is to them.
  • Fairy Sexy: Crysta.
  • "Falling in Love" Montage: Crysta and Zak get one late in the movie.
  • Fan Service: Crysta's outfit, if you're into that. Or Pip's, for that matter.
  • Fantastic Racism: Batty hates humans in both movies, without exception. Really hates them - he'd like to see them dead and sees them as monsters without feelings. Admittedly he has a damn good reason...
  • Faux Affably Evil /Evil Is Hammy: Hexxus, but what would you expect from a singing villain voiced by Tim Curry?
  • Fertile Feet: Crysta does this near the end of the movie, and uses it directly against Hexxus.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Crysta first flies up out of the canopy, for a split second, the black cloud rising out of Mount Warning is shaped exactly like the Grim Reaper. Possibly implying that pollution is deathly...
    • During the same scene, just before the silhouette of the falcon is seen through the canopy, it can be very briefly seen flying behind Crysta.
  • Genre Savvy: Batty. Especially "I fell for it! I should have known!"
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Almost. Some of "Toxic Love" was cut out for its none-too-subtle sexual undertones, as well as some of "Batty Rap" for its traumatizing imagery of animal testing. The official soundtrack was uncensored, however. And then there's still that singing goanna... let's just say that someone on the writing staff really, really liked the idea of the main character being eaten alive...
    • Not too subtle? The lyrics include the word "horny" -- and it's not the "having or feeling like horns" definition either (though that original definition isn't used much -- and this is Tim Curry we're talking about).
      • What's odd is that in the scene of Hexxus sucking the oil from the machine when he first comes to life, the censors found nothing objectionable about him describing the oil he was consuming as "mother's milk" (to be fair, the "mother's milk" line was almost cut, but either the censors forgot or the writers fought to keep it, in exchange for having "Toxic Love"'s more sexual lyrics removed).
    • There's a different moment that may or may not be this trope: When Crysta tells Zak "I want to learn magic like yours" (a line which in itself sounds vaguely like... something else), he leads her to a flower, they both crawl beneath the petals... and it turns out that Zak's only showing her a lit match.
  • Green Aesop
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Pips's jealousy towards Zak.
  • Green Eyed Red Head: Pips.
  • Hartman Hips: Crysta.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Batty is voiced by Robin Williams, and Hexxus is voiced by Tim Curry.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Apparently all they do is create pain and pollution and destruction. But they're not all bad, because they also have boom boxes!
  • Humongous Mecha: The Leveler. It's a bulldozer, a tank, a tractor, and an automated factory all in one. It has two huge arms with giant claws for hands, chainsaws on its "elbows", and a "mouth" with backwards-facing "teeth" that pull unfortunate trees inside it, all topped off with a control room that looks like a single wide cyclopes-like eye. Basically, take Gigan and turn him into a vehicle.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Zak is shrunk down to fairy size for most of the movie.
  • Industrialized Evil: The milling machine.
  • Interspecies Romance: Human/fairy. It doesn't work out.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Pips. He's a tough, badass fairy that hangs out with a group of biker fairies that very openly expresses his dislike of Zak multiple times, but he's mostly concerned about Crysta's safety and the survival of Ferngully. Near the end of the movie, he ends up saving Zak from falling to his death and helps him get inside the Leveller.
    • Sadly, he is the main protagonist in the sequel, in which he comes across as just a shallow Jerkass.
  • Large Ham: Hexxus. Tim Curry was enjoying himself immensely. Batty Koda also gets some hammy moments because... hell, it's Robin freakin' Williams. The man is made of ham.
  • Love Triangle: Zak/Crysta/Pips, to a certain extent.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Batty Rap." Justified because Batty is, well, pretty much insane from the humans' experiments on him.
  • Magic Skirt: Did Crysta glue it on?
  • Magic Misfire: How Zak gets shrunk.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Apparently whatever Magi Lune does requires that she die so her protege can take on her power. Why this is necessary at all is never explained.
  • Missing Mom: Crysta's mother is never seen nor mentioned.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: When Batty introduces himself to the fairies, he explains that "they used to call me Batty. Batty Koda." That's a cute name, though!
    • Well, it's possible he was a bit strange before being captured, "Batty" is a nickname, and his name is simply "Koda."
  • The Obi-Wan: Magi Lune, though what she does and why Crysta is studying under her isn't really established. Nor is it established why she dies.
  • Off-Model: As said in Animation Bump above, the first movie was done by a number of animation studios in America, Europe and Asia. For FernGully 2, however, only Wang was kept around, though Stardust Pictures was also used.
  • One-Winged Angel: Hexxus after his power source is destroyed.
  • Only Sane Man: Batty comes across as this in the sequel.
  • The Other Darrin: Everyone was recast for the sequel. Bizarrely, only one of the replacement voice actors (Matt K. Miller as Batty) has any roles whatsoever outside this film.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Batty Koda.
  • The Queen's Latin: Batty gets some in when Zak changes his "channels", probably a Shout-Out to Robin Williams' own comedy bit about Romans with English accents.

 Batty: Oh Caesar, Emperor of Rome!

  • Running Gag: Batty Koda's consistent collision with trees (and anything) is a major running gag, and it even continues into the sequel.
  • Scenery Porn: The very colorful, lush environments are actually based off of what the filmmaker and a group of animators saw during their trip to the Australian rainforests and are arguably the most researched part of the movie. For example, the scene where Zak talks about life in the city seems to exist for the sole purpose of showing off the beautiful glowing mushrooms growing on the trees.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Well, sealed in a tree, to be precise...
  • She's Got Legs: Crysta's got a nice set of pins.
  • Shout-Out: Batty quoting John Wayne, All About Eve, Star Wars, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Star Trek, etc. during the climax, when Zak is changing his "channels".
  • Skyward Scream: The mother kangaroo in the sequel, after her baby is stolen.

 "MY BAAAAABBBYYYYYY!"

  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Or soundtrack flip-floppery, anyway. In the sequel, Batty flips from singing about how they'll most certainly get home if they don't give up hope, to hopelessly informing the other animals that they're all bound for the same fate he suffered before the first movie, and then some.
  • Space Whale Aesop: "Save the wild places in the world, because that's where the Fairies live." Well, if it works, that's good with me.
    • In the sequel, the moral is still to save the rainforest, even though we see several times the fairies can do to one their own. The moral of the story to him is "Don't save the rainforest, the fairies have it under control."
    • "Don't cut down trees or you may unleash an avatar of death that will destroy the world."
  • Stock Audio Clip: Batty's distinctive cry of "Ooooooooooooohhh nooooooooooooooooo!!!!".
  • Talking Animal: Batty, Goanna and most of the other rainforest animals.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Batty Koda, during a scene in which Hexxus nearly crushes both him and Zak with debris.

 Batty: (watching a headlight falling towards him) Oh, this is gonna hurt...

  • Too Dumb to Live: The villains of the sequel, who could have easily stopped the truck they were driving and kicked the heroine off of it, but instead elected to murder her by decoupling their trailer with her on it.
  • Totally Radical:

 Zak: That sounds cool.

Crysta: No, usually it's warm.

Zak: Nah, nah...'cool' means 'hot'.

Crysta: What?

Zak: Yeah. You know... bodacious.. bad.. tubular...

Batty: Awesome use of the language, dude.

    • A Call Back to the above is probably the most narmy moment in the film.

 Crysta: [Zak]'s a bodacious babe!

  • Transformation Trauma: Crysta fails several attempts to fix Zak's size, turning him into various sizes and strange creatures during each attempt.

 Batty Koda: Oh, it's Darwin's Grab Bag!

  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Pips to Crysta when Zak enters the picture, but it's hinted that Pips and Crysta eventually end up together.
  • Villain Song: The aforementioned "Toxic Love" for Hexxus. Possibly a reference to Tim Curry's role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show: It sounds a good deal like "Sweet Transvestite."
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Eventually Pips.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: "Batty Rap" by Batty Koda. Okay, not exactly "The Villain Sucks", but "Humans Suck", and Batty consistently views them as being evil.
  • Wacky Guy: Batty Koda, played by Robin Williams for exactly this reason.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Zak lied to Crysta that humans can stop the monster (Leveler) that's destroying the trees. She didn't take it well when she learned the truth, that Humans Are Bastards.
  • Watch Out for That Tree: It's a running gag that Batty Koda crashes into trees and windows.
    • This is Truth in Television. Because fruit bats are just so massive, they have a lot of excess inertia when it does come time to stop, resulting in rather hard landings. That said, they probably don't land face-first into the trunk.
  • Younger than He Looks: According to one of his credit cards, Zak is said to be sixteen years old. However, he looks more like he's in his early twenties.

Notes

  1. Wang also worked on other films like Tron, Pound Puppies: Legend of Big Paw and the second Care Bears movie; Hanho on Starchaser: Legend of Orion and When the Wind Blows, as well as Ink & Paint and camera for a tech demo by Kroyer
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