Chicken Hare and the Hamster of Darkness

Where I Watched It: Netflix

English Audio Description Available?: Yes

Narration Provided By: A company and a narrator I had yet to encounter. i did my best to search based off of what I picked up with my ears, but oddly enough when I search “Christina” or even “Kristina”, on theadna.org, i get “no results found”. Really? There are NO Christina’s in the industry?

The Plot: So, apparently this netflix animated insanity is based on a Dark Horse graphic novel. i was as shocked as you are. Chicken hare is a half chicken, half rabbit that is randomly found by his adventurous father, who later becomes King. Chicken Hare grows up his whole life wanting to be in The Adventurer’s Club like his father, but his audition fails, so he tries to solve the unsolvable mystery of the Hamster of Darkness, a lost treasure his dad has yet to procure. He has his servant turtle follow him, and he picks up a female skunk guide along the way. But racing against him is his evil uncle who has broken out of jail, and intends to use the Hamster to overthrow Chicken Hare’s father and become King. Betcha didn’t see that plot coming.

What Works: I had no idea this existed. Ever. not the comic, nor did I know that Sony has been working on this in one form or aanother for the last ten years. Eventually, they outsourced it to a Belgian animation house, which explains why no one in the voice cast have you ever heard of, nor are they worth mentioning. When i saw a fellow YouTube critic reviewing this film, with this absurd title, i knew I had to do it. And I went in expecting this to be awful.

And it wasn’t.

Is it great? No. But it has its moments, and it’s far better than Marmaduke. This one actually has a nice morale for the story about accepting yourself for who you are, and not letting others define your worth. Chicken hare is always useful in some manner, but it’s not until he learns to stop hiding the Chicken part of him that he really succeeds at what he wants from life, to be this great Indiana Jones knockoff.

Meanwhile, his supporting friends carry this film. Meg, the Skunk, has the best voice work of any character in the film. She’s really the only one who sounds like she could have been in any other film, and not seemed out of place. Everyone else feels like a budget version of a voice talent, but Meg’s actress did the best work. And while they do resort to using her gas abilities more than once, it’s still nowhere near as crude as Marmaduke shitting into a trophy.

Meanwhile, Abe the Turtle, who is a servant, is full of this amazing subliminal message agenda for the kiddos about labor, unions, and complex thoughts about whether or not someone can be friends with their boss when the power dynamic isn’t in their favor. I wasn’t expecting such heavy themes, but it was rather hilarious every time he brought up something I knew would fly way over little kids heads. This film is surprisingly pro-union, an odd stance for a Belgian kids film.

The film didn’t blow my mind, and it feels like a B-movie. But it’s a fairly entertaining one, and I’ve seen much worse already this year, from more well known animated houses. In one breath, it feels somewhat predictable, but on the other goes off in a really odd direction at times that makes you realize that you didn’t see that coming. There’s an entire sequence with pigs that I know even the most clairvoyant moviegoer won’t see coming.

What Doesn’t Work: Not all voice talent is created equal, and a lot of this voice work is bad. The worst offenders seem to be in smaller roles, but the King isn’t great either. And, by the way, King Arthur? Really? That’s intentional, and you have not done the work here to earn a King Arthur reference.

The film does tart off oddly pretty slow, but runs pretty fast once it gets going. I have no idea what this film actually looks like, but I’m just praying it isn’t some shitty Hoodwinked, Delgo, Battle For terra, Doogal, Food Fight nonsense.

The Blind Perspective: The narrator here is brilliant, and not only is the description written well fully of storybook like descriptive terminology, but she also reads the film with the same levels of excitement and impending doom through every scene like you might do if you were reading your kid a bedtime story.

My only problem with the film is the choice to call Chicken Hare “Hopper”. He’s never called that during the film, and is always called Chicken Hare. So why does the audio description call him Hopper?

Final Thoughts: I’m not going to promise adults that you will love this and have a great time. But you might be able to endure this with your kids if you have Netflix. There are worse films out there. I’d rather watch this five times than watch even 10 minutes of Marmaduke again. That film is terrible, and is reportedly making children stupid all across America. But this… this is alright. Not great. Pixar, Dreamworks, Blue Sky, Studio Ghibli, and others have worked really hard to elevate the animation medium, and this is stuck somewhat in the straight-to-video mentality. But for what it is, it ended up being better than a film with this absurd title.

Final Grade: C

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