Western Animation: FernGully: The Last Rainforest
aka: Fern Gully
If there were a Holy Trinity of aesop-y children's animation of the early '90s, it would consist of Captain Planet and the Planeteers
, Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue
... and 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 even try to fake 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 only moderately well 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:
- 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)note , 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 & 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, Pacific Title and The Howard Anderson Company helped out.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Hexxus, the Avatar of pollution. He resembles a cloud of oilsmoke with glowy red eyes and a brown mouth.
- Artistic License – Biology: Apart from the fact that trees don't have a nervous system and can't feel pain, the bark is made of dead cells anyway. Zak carving on it would be no more painful than trimming your fingernails.
- Batty is too small. He's definitely a fruit bat. But why is he only slightly taller than the fairies/Zak, who seem to be only a few inches tall at best? Flying Foxes are the largest bats in the world. With wingspans up to six feet wide. Even if you take into account possible stunted growth that's small. Furthermore, he says his "radar's all shut up", but fruit bats can't echolocate.
- Ascended Extra: The goanna goes goes from singing a two-minute song about eating Zak to being a reoccurring character in the sequel.
- Award Bait Song: "A Dream Worth Keeping."
- Bare Your Midriff: Crysta.
- Being Experimented On Makes You Crazy: Poor, poor Batty.
- Big Bad: Hexxus.
- Big Eater: Zak's coworker Tony. 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, and it's implied he and Crysta will never see each other again. But he leaves with a new-found respect for what he once thoughtlessly destroyed, and tells his friends that "things have gotta change."
- 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 very 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 rain forest. The fairies set to work fixing it, and by the time the heroes return triumphant, things are almost back to normal.
- For all the times the first movie tries to show nature as beautiful and humans as destructive, the true villain of the film wasn't the humans, or even something created by them, but a living being who's polluting the forest so he can eat. Life is literally toxic to him, and pollution is his only sustenance. So basically, in a movie about how wonderful nature is, they made the bad guy a natural being whose nature is to feed on nature itself.
- Then again, the first movie makes it clear that nature consists of a balance of creation and destruction. A little destruction is okay as long as it's tempered with creation. Hexxuss is a problem because he's an Omnicidal Maniac that wants to wipe out all life with a pollution World-Wrecking Wave to create his own graveyard Villain World. The film also never claims that humans are destructive per se, just greedy, thoughtless, and/or short-sighted, which can lead to unwittingly causing more destruction than the world can recover from.
- Check Please: Uttered by Batty.
- Clipped Wing Angel: Hexxus unveiling his stronger form doesn't help him much. Before he can even unleash his destruction, Crysta and the other fairies infect him with plant growth and seal him in another magical tree.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Deconstructed with Batty; his eccentricity is a result of Animal Testing done to him in the past, which has also left him with a grudge against humans.
- 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 at least 25.
- Creator Cameo: One of the workers that reports to the Leveler, the one that says "Finito, good buddy," is the director Bill Kroyer. Ralph, who checks in on him over the radio, even calls him Willy.
- Creator Provincialism: Only possible reason for the Australian setting.
- 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 Blonde: Zak has noticeably darker skin than most of the fairies. Still, not so dark that it can't be a result of plenty of beach time; this is Australia.
- Also, his hair could be dyed. Didn't you notice how dark his eyebrows are?
- Deadpan Snarker: Batty Koda, usually around Zak.
- Demoted to Extra: Crysta, you know the main character in the first movie, yeah not so much in the sequel.
- 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.
- In the sequel, Nugget.
- Duck Season, Rabbit Season:
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 fell for it! I should have known!
- DVD Commentary: The tales of the filmmaker's time in Australia are arguably more entertaining than the movie itself.
- Evil Brit: Tim Curry in the first film. Also, in the sequel, the only people in the entirety of Australia with an Australian accent are 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 Slinks: Hexxus moves this way through the entire movie, but never more so than in his show-stopping "Toxic Love" number.
- 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.
- Crysta's father actually says to her, "Aren't you a little too old to believe in human tales?"
- Fairy Sexy: Crysta.
- Falling in Love Montage: Crysta and Zak get one late in the movie.
- Fanservice: 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?
- Fear Is the Appropriate Response: Just found out the boss that has been ordering you over the radio to work double-shifts leveling trees so you can get to a specific gully in the forest by morning, is actually an Elemental Embodiment of destruction made of your leveling machine's fumes? Don't worry. We would scream and bolt out of the machine faster than you can say "What happened?" too.
- 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.
- When Hexxus is sitting above the cabin to the leveller, the screen pans down and you see the skinny driver reading a magazine. He turns it vertically and both he and the fat driver gawk at what they see.
- Glass Smack and Slide: Zach once falls into the logging machine's windshield and slides down as his coworkers watch.
- Green Aesop
- Green-Eyed Monster: Pips's jealousy towards Zak.
- The Grim Reaper: Hexxus' true form seems to be a giant burning skeleton with a cloak of tar. He's specifically mentioned to be the ancient embodiment of destruction, but it wouldn't take a leap of faith to infer that Hexxus' purpose is to bring about the end of life itself.
- Hartman Hips: Crysta.
- Healing Hands: Done by Zak to Crysta after Crysta accidentally touches his match and burns her hand.
- Heel-Face Turn: In the sequel, Mac's dogs Boof and Slasher.
- Hope Spot: Zigzagged. After Zak succeeds in turning off the human's logging machine, Hexxus chokes from the lack of pollution (oh, the irony) and withers away. It seems the fight is over, but then he regenerates into an even stronger form that's essentially The Grim Reaper made of fire and tar. Then Crysta finds another way to defeat Hexxus by using the forest's magic to reseal him inside another magic tree.
- 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.
- 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 was made of ham.
- The Last Title: The title.
- 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.
- Made of Evil: Hexxus is the semi-incorporeal manifestation of destruction and pollution that has to be sealed in a tree to be contained. He wants to turn the world into a polluted wasteland specifically because he lives off it.
- Magic Skirt: Do Crysta and Pips 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."
- Nothing Is Scarier: What did those scientists do to Batty? We get a few unpleasant Noodle Implements in the full version of his rap, but that's about it. Then again, since there are two wires sticking out his head that short-circuit his thought processes when they touch, it's probably better if we don't know.
- 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.
- Obliviously Evil: The humans we see working the Leveler aren't maliciously trying to wipe out entire habitats, pollute the water, cause trees pain, or leave animals and fairies homeless. They're Just Following Orders. It doesn't seem to occur to them that they are destroying life until they see the destroyed forest right in front of them.
- 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.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Hexxus wants to destroy the rainforest and kill off all the Earth's creatures by turning it into an uninhabitable toxic wasteland. He's the primordial embodiment of destruction and pollution, so it's literally his purpose for existing in the first place.
- One-Winged Angel: After Hexxus' power source from human pollution is disconnected his smoke form dissipates, and it momentarily seems like he's defeated. Then he harnesses his own power and transforms into a giant, black, cloaked skeleton made out of fire and tar. It's hinted to be his real form, as it's glimpsed earlier in the film during his Villain Song.
- Only Sane Man: Batty comes across as this in the sequel.
- The Outside World: The faeries are convinced that Ferngully is the entire world, and that humans are long extinct. Mage-in-training Crysta is so surprised to actually see a human that she fumbles a magic spell meant to warn him of danger. The spell instead shrinks the human to about three inches tall, which is faerie size.
- The Place
- Plucky Comic Relief: Batty Koda.
- Polluted Wasteland: Hexxus's ideal environment, and what he wants to turn Ferngully into.
- Punch Clock Villain: The humans working "The Leveler" are not malicious about cutting down or polluting the rain forest. They're just doing their jobs.
- 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.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: A frightened Batty does this in front of Pips' face making him jump back, after Pips teases him by telling him he loves his haircut.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The villain Hexxus, who for ages was sealed into a tree, and was released when the tree was cut down.
- She's Got Legs: Crysta's got a nice set of pins.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Batty's Disney Death at the climax should tell you that things are about to get real.
- 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.
- 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."
- Spell My Name Without A C: Zak.
- Split Personality: Batty seems to have a world going on up there.
Batty: (suddenly taking on a female voice and applying berry juice like lipstick) All of our cosmetics are non-carcinogenic (gets zapped) AHHHH!!!
- Stock Audio Clip: Batty's distinctive cry of "Ooooooooooooohhh nooooooooooooooooo!!!!".
- Talking Animal: Batty, Goanna and most of the other rainforest animals.
- That Reminds Me of a Song:
- The infamous "Land of 1,000 Dances" scene.
- Not to mention that Raffi song. (But at least it's short.)
- The Mentally Disturbed: Batty isn't exactly sane following his ordeal, as "Batty Rap" indicates.
- 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'.
Zak: Yeah. You know... bodacious.. bad.. tubular...
- 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!
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Crysta looks absolutely nothing like her father; a short, fat, bearded fairy.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Any interest Crysta may have had for Pips takes a back seat as soon as Zak shows up. Pips doesn't take it well.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Well, how were Tony and Ralph supposed to know the boss ordering them over the radio to level trees overtime and get to FernGully by morning was an Omnicidal Anthropomorphic Personification of Destruction that just wanted to wipe out all life to create his own pollution paradise?
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Hexxus.
- 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."
- 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.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In the sequel, Batty's antenna is mysteriously missing. What makes this one really jarring are the facts that 1. the antenna was a major part of his character and 2. it was implied to be permanently affixed to his head.
- 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.
- Your Size May Vary: Batty's size is rather inconsistent. 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 human child. And back again.