I have to begin this review with a little clarification/ justification: this is an animated feature film targeted toward youth and the visuals alone may be enough to keep the kiddies occupied but to judge this film against the precedent set by Pixar, DreamWorks or Sony Imageworks would be absolutely catastrophic.
As such, I will do my best to keep this critique in isolation for its own good. That said The Legend of Sasquatch is a 2006 computer-animated independent film released by Gorilla Pictures that managed to snag the voice talents of William Hurt, John Rhys-Davies and cartoon legend Frank Welker. It was released on September 12, 2006 but the DVD didn't hit the scene till 2008.
The film opens with Ranger Steve (John Rhys-Davies) sitting by a campfire narrating a story about the Davis family and the power of legend. The Davis Family - John (William Hurt), along with his young daughters Khristy and Maggie, relocate to a secluded log cabin in the mountains above Seattle and soon discover a family of Bigfoot hiding nearby.
John, it turns out, has come to the area to supervise the construction of a dam that will provide electricity to neighboring areas while simultaneously teaching his family the value of life free of the restrictions of technology.
At its core, this is the tale of John being forced into a decision between job security and doing what is right for the population of Sasquatch residing in the valley that would be flooded once the dam was complete.
The list of problems plaguing this picture is plentiful to say the least but contrary to common misconception, few of them stem from the simple fact that this is an indie film on a limited budget. Yes the models are extremely simplistic and the textures, rendering, and lighting quite primitive, the visuals can't be blamed for the major shortcomings. The simple look of things could have worked just fine had the plot, characterization, and pacing been better realized but as it stands, these factors inhibit what charm the large-head/ small bodied characters bring to the table.
And speaking of, perhaps the film's biggest crime comes in the form of its pacing. Scenes flounder on painfully with attention paid to elements that should have been little more than a flash of the film's runtime. Couple this to the fact that the prime audience for this film is children (many of which have attention spans that rival mosquitoes) and the painfully slow scene development becomes downright unbearable. It is possible, or so I've discovered, to have a child sit through this one once but the replay value is slim to none presumably due to the tedious nature of the plot pacing.
And then there is the oddity sprinkled about to mention. A cabin so isolated that a plane is required for John to go to work makes one wonder where the family gets groceries, if the kids go to school, and how anyone does their laundry. The Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) themselves are passable right up until the moment they're depicted as being able to fly! In the interest of exposing children to the value of a long-standing legend (which is supposedly the film's underlying moral), shouldn't the legend be even remotely close to accurate? Inflated furry balloons with feet that act as massive propellers is such an odd portrayal of the yeti myth that viewers of all ages will find themselves puzzled.
Then there is the story. It's got some potential somewhere in there but the delivery is so muddled that most all will surely be disappointed. The plot meanders around with many hints to depth that never fully develop into anything. Perhaps the best way to describe the feeling one gets is that this was about a 20-minute tale told in 74-minutes.
On the plus side, this film does feature a charming upbeat soundtrack from the Restaneo sisters (who act in the film), who apparently boast a successful musical career as well as a wonderfully fitting score by Stafford Hebert. Additionally a few of the lessons the film heavily handedly attempts are quite powerful (especially those delivered by John Rhys-Davies).
In all it's tough to review this one. I mean it is safe to say that it possesses very little to hold the interest of youngsters and even less for adults. The intentions are admirable and while I'm a big fan of small companies doing battle with the corporate juggernauts, it's pretty safe to say Disney and DreamWorks need not fear losing hordes of animation buffs to Gorilla Pictures on this one...Lasting image of a mustached Bigfoot flying over the city or otherwise.