A Turtle’s Tale has a certain cute, childish charm. When we first see Sammy as a minutes-old hatchling, trying to climb out of a sandy hole and make his way to the sea, it’s clear that a young audience is in mind here. There are none of the Dreamworks/Pixar “something for all ages” beats, the film choosing instead to skew deliberately 8 and under. There is an environmental message that will bypass the youngsters for the most part (oil slicks, dumped rubbish, piping toxic waste, whaling, deforestation), but it’s as subtle as a sledge-hammer and as likely to cause adults to switch off as attract their sympathies.
The story is so straightforward as to be simplistically dull. Sammy grows up, makes friends, avoids peril, finds a mate, all to a contemporary pop soundtrack. There’s no real sense of danger, no genuine concern that all will be anything other than happy ever after and it drains the narrative of any life, any propulsive quality. The voice-work is solid enough and clearly some thought has been given to it. Listening to the various players talk about their work during one of the disc’s extras, they clearly enjoyed the experience, which was their first dabble in animation for the most part.
The quality of the CG-work is well below par. Of course the bar has been raised and raised by successive Pixar and Dreamworks efforts, but the Ice Age franchise and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs have shown you don’t have to be one of the so-called big-hitters to deliver quality animation. It just feels so very amateurish and with the problems already mentioned in other areas, the film adds up to an overall impression of mediocrity. Unless you are very young, or very patient, this may well not be the film for you.
Extras: If you get the Sainsburys-specific special edition, you’ll get interviews with the principals (Dominic Cooper as the eponymous Sammy, Robert Sheehan as his friend Ray, Gemma Arterton as Shelley, John Hurt as a 50-year old Sammy and Kayvan Novak as the very French Fluffy the Cat) in which they discuss their experiences of working in animation for the first time and the afore-mentioned environmental issues. You also get some B-roll footage of them working through their line readings. Hardly sensational stuff, but better than the mere trailer you get on the standard edition.