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Western Animation / FernGully: The Last Rainforest

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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.

FernGully: The Last Rainforest is a 1992 animated feature created by Kroyer Studios and distributed by 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, but it wasn't really a bad movie; it just oozed Aesop from every available pore.

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...

Also, this movie is not a prison break movie.


These films provide examples of:

  • Animal Testing: Batty Koda's entire backstory. Being tested on has also made him crazy as a result.
  • 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.
  • Ascended Extra: The goanna 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.
  • 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."
  • Blatant Lies: Zak tells Crysta that the crosses sprayed on the trees are a ward of protection, instead of being an advert to the logging crew to chop the thing down.
  • Blob Monster: Hexxus has the basic form of a blob of sludge, but he regains his gaseous form when he drinks enough diesel exhaust from the Leveller.
  • 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.
    • That...thing with the electric wires sticking out of Batty's head is a more minor example, seeing as it's implied to be permanently attached to him.
  • 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.
      • There's also the fact that forest fires are a completely natural part of a forest's life cycle. It consumes the dead twigs, branches and other detritus on the forest floor, not to mention there are a number of plants whose seeds depend on the heat from a fire to cause them to split open and begin their life cycle, taking advantage of the fire removing much of their competition.
    • 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.
  • The Cameo: Ralph, one of Zak's co-workers, appears as a carny in the sequel. Though he's mistakenly given an Australian accent instead of the New York accent he had before.
  • 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.
  • Consuming Passion: There really is no way around it, the Goanna's song about eating Zak is oozing sexual undertones from every pore.
  • 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.
  • Covers Always Lie: The kind of purple cloud with an evil face on the cover barely resembles Hexxus, the villain.
  • 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.
  • 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: 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!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Batty Koda, usually around Zak.
  • Demoted to Extra: Crysta has a very diminished role in the sequel, despite being the central character in the first film.
  • Destroyer Deity: Hexxus is described by Magi Lune as the primordial spirit of destruction in the intro who was initially birthed out of a volcano. He feeds off of anything that is toxic to life, especially human-based pollution. His whole purpose is to destroy the forest and create a Polluted Wasteland in its place.
  • Deus ex Machina: Batty plays this role early in the film, appearing out of nowhere to rescue Crysta and Zak from a woodchipper at the last second.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Arguably the whole movie. Only The Three Caballeros used a more vivid palette.
  • Disney Death: Batty, who is hit with a large piece of debris and taken out of the final fight. Luckily, after being restored to his normal size, Zak manages to find and revive him.
    • 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:
    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!
  • 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 Is Hammy: Hexxus, but what would you expect from a singing villain voiced by Tim Curry?
  • 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, "Don't you think you're a little old to believe in human tales?" Also played with—it's not that they believe humans never existed, as they're certain they did and indeed, they've interacted with them many ages ago. However, humans left the rainforest at some point and this led the fairies to believe that mankind had died off. Indeed, when Batty mentions humans we get this exchange:
    Crysta: It's okay...there are no humans.
    Old Fairy: They're long gone.
    Older Fairy: Vanished!
    Even Older Fairy: Definitely extinct.
  • Fairy Sexy: Crysta and many of the background young female fairies. If this trope could count for males, then Pips definitely.
  • 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...
  • 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 tree harvester'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.
  • Foreshadowing: When Hexxus regains his full power at the beginning of "Toxic Love", he appears as a black skeleton with fangs. At the end of the film he takes on this form again, wreathed in flames.
  • 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. Obviously implying that pollution is deadly...
    • 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.
  • Glass Smack and Slide: Zach once falls into the logging machine's windshield and slides down as his coworkers watch.
  • Glowing Flora: At some point, Zack and Krysta are seen hopping on several bioluminescent shelf fungi.
  • Green Aesop: The very name of the movie is a dead giveaway.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Pips's jealousy towards Zak.
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: Zac offers a handshake to Crysta. Unfamiliar with the concept of shaking hands, she just sticks her hand out at Zac's face.
  • 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 timber harvester, 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 Leveler.
  • 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. Unfortunately, he Took a Level in Jerkass in the sequel.
  • 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.
    • Also, from the sequel: "MAI BAYYYYYYYYBEEEEEEEEEE!"
  • 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: Both Crysta and Pips wear skirts that stay perfectly in place no matter what they're doing. There's even a scene with Crysta walking upside down and her skirt doesn't fall back an inch.
  • Magic Misfire: How Zak gets shrunk.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Batty isn't exactly sane following his ordeal, as "Batty Rap" indicates.
  • The Mentor: Magi Lune, though what she does and why Crysta is studying under her isn't really established.
  • 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.
  • Military Mashup Machine: A non-military example. The Leveler functions as both a mobile sawmill and a tree harvester.
  • Mobile Factory: The Leveler can process trees into planks within itself.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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. Batty's radar was entirely undrawn with no sign it had ever been there. Of course you could say the fairies removed it, but it's not even referenced; the real reason is laziness/budget reasons.
    • Batty becomes radically bigger in the sequel.
  • 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 fairies 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 fairy size.
  • Passing the Torch: Towards the end of the film, Magi Lune passes her powers on to Crysta and the other fairies. And even Zak.
  • 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!
  • Reclaimed by Nature: After Hexxus has been defeated, both he and his hijacked machine, the Leveler, get shrouded in flora. With the help of magic fairies, plants galore sprout around, into and through the Giant Mecha, breaking it with expanding stalks and tendrils. The whole conversion takes mere minutes.
  • Running Gag: Batty Koda's consistent collision with trees (and anything) is a major running gag, and it even continues into the sequel.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: We get an entire song about Goanna taunting Zach with his intent to eat him, because "if [he's] gonna eat somebody, it may as well be [him]". This implies no matter what Goanna eats, it'll be a "somebody" to him. And he's okay with that.
  • 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. In the end, Crysta and her fellow fairies manage to create a whole new tree to recapture him.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Be honest. Prior to learning about this movie, did you even think "goanna", was a word? Much less a species of lizard? And how many animated films can you think of featuring cassowaries?
  • 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."
  • 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!!!!".
  • Supernaturally Marked Grave: Both of Hexxus's tree traps.
  • 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.)
  • 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...
  • Tomboy: Crysta would much rather prefer looking above the canopy, exploring, and goofing off and hanging out with Pips and his biker beetle gang than listen to Magi Lune's lectures. Her pixie cut is also evidence of her tomboyishness.
  • 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...
    • 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 at least at first. Whether he remains this is ambiguous; the two share a tender smile at the end but this may be bidding Zak farewell. Crysta flies off before anything more happens and Pips follows her like he always does. The sequel certainly did nothing with this.
  • 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.
  • The Voiceless: Bark, the smallest Beetle Boy. He becomes Suddenly Voiced in the sequel, though.
  • 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 and sounds 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 fairies, to about the size of a baby wombat, to big enough to carry a human child. And back again.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Fern Gully, Fern Gully 2 The Magical Rescue


"Toxic Love"

The spirit of destruction Hexus is free to destroy the rainforest.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / VillainSong

Media sources:

Main / VillainSong