Adventures in Zambezia (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 22, 2013 by  

“Adventures in Zambezia” is a fun family animated film with an enjoyable story with a South African-style.  This may be the first major project from Triggerfish Animation Studios but from what they were able accomplish with the resources and budget to work with, one can hope we see more animation coming out of South Africa.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2012 Zambezia Film Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Adventures in Zambezia

YEAR: 2012

DURATION: 82 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English – Audio Description Track, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Release Date: March 26, 2013

Directed by Wayne Thornley

Screenplay by Andrew Cook, Raffaella Delle Donne, Anthony Silverston, Wayne Thornley

Produced by Mike Buckland, James Middleton, Anthony Silverston

Executive Producer: Kofi Ambarbeng, Claire Becker, Greg Becker, Basil Ford, Peter Graham, Stephen Hays, Mace Neufeld, Edward Noeltner

Associate Producer: Ned Lott

Line Producer: Vanessa Sinden

Music by Bruce Retief

Edited by Luke MacKay, Michael Smit, Paul Speirs

Casting by Ned Lott

Production Design by Allan Cameron

Featuring the Voices of:

Leonard Nimoy as Sekhuru

Jeremy Suarez as Kai

Abigail Breslin as Zoe

Jeff Goldblum as Ajax

Samuel L. Jackson as Tendai

Jenifer Lewis as gogo

Jim Cummings as Budzo/Marabous

Jamal Mixon as Ezee

Ricahrd E. Grant as Cecil

When a spirited young falcon named Kai (Jeremy Suarez, TV’s “The Bernie Mac Show”) learns of Zambezia, the fabulous city of birds, he leaves his remote country home against the wishes of his father (Jackson). But when his dad is captured by an evil lizard who plans to attack the city, Kai must learn the importance of teamwork if he’s to rescue his father, save his new friends and help keep Zambezia lizard free. Samuel L. Jackson, Abigail Breslin, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy give voice to this beautifully animated fun-filled adventure the whole family will enjoy!

When it comes to animated films, the world is familiar with Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks Animation.  But when it comes to animation studios around the world, while England, France, Japan, South Korea have made their mark in the world for animated feature films, once in a while, you have a film that comes from another country and it surprises you.

In 2012, was treated to an animated film titled “Adventures in Zambezia” created by South African animation company Triggerfish Animation Studios.

Directed by actor Wayne Thorley and a screenplay co-written by Thorley,  Andrew Cook, Raffaella Delle Donne and Anthony Silverston, the studio would work on “Zambezia” for several years with a budget of $20 million.

And now “Adventures in Zambezia” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in March 2013.

“Adventures in Zambezia” is about a young falcon named Kai (voiced by Jeremy Suarez), who is getting restless at living with his father (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) in a remote part of the desert.

Kai wants to have fun and see what’s out in the world but his father refuses to allow him to leave from the area and has him focus on his training, which Kai tends to improvise by being a little reckless.  But for Kai’s father, he is not sure how long he can keep his son at home, as he wants to venture out into the world.  But for Kai’s father, things have not been the same since the death of his wife and is a sore topic that he never discussed with his son.

But one day, Kai sees birds that were being chased down by Marabous.  The birds are on a mission to bring rescued baby birds back to Zambezia, a place that Kai has never heard of.  And as these visitors explain to Kai about the beauty of Zambezia and how these babies will one day become member of the Hurricanes (a group which protects Zambezia), two marabous then show up to eat the baby birds.  Kai tries to fight them off but Kai’s father comes to the rescue and manages to kill one of the marabous, with one vowing to get revenge for the death of his brother.

Meanwhile, one of the birds recognizes Kai’s father and asks him if he is Tendai but Kai’s father refuses to answer.  As their visitors leave, Kai wants to know why his father never told him about Zambezia.  His father tells him that he shouldn’t stick his neck out for the other birds, because it only leads to trouble.  But an argument between father and son leads Kai to leave and go to Zambezia.

We are then introduced to the antagonist, Budzo, a large lizard who asks the Marabous to work with him in order to rule Zambezia.  Meanwhile, Tendai who goes to searching for his son overhears Budzo’s plan but as he tries to escape, he is captured by Budzo.

Meanwhile, as Kai arrives in Zambezia, he makes new friends and tries to join and become a member of the Hurricanes.  But will Kai be able to follow the strict rules of Zambezia and protect the area?  And how will Kai react when he finds out that his father is being held captive by Budzo?


“Adventures in Zambezia” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  One of the things that you will see in this film is the detail when it comes to surrounding objects but also how much emphasis was placed on feathers.  It was the most challenging aspect that Triggerfish Animation Studios faced and what they focused on the most.  There is good detail and also very good textures when it comes to a tree trunk, leaves or mountains, as well as threaded objects.  But for the most part, the film is vibrant, plenty of colors featured.  I did not notice any banding issues, artifacts or anything problematic during my viewing of the film.


“Adventures in Zambezia” is presented in English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and an English – Audio Description Track.  While watching the film, there is good ambiance but I was hoping for a bit more immersive audio and LFE during the more action-intense sequences of the film. But dialogue and music is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.


“Adventures in Zambezia” comes with the following special features:

  • Birds of a Feather – (5:20) Director Wayne Thorley, the producers and animation staff talk about creating “Adventures in Zambezia”.
  • An African Story – (6:23) A discussion of the many drafts created for “Adventures in Zambezia” and how the staff contributed to coming up ideas for the film.
  • The Tree City – (3:41) Creating the look and feel of “The Tree City” and the various birds featured in the film.
  • Technical Challenges – (3:54) Interviews with the staff of Triggerfish Animation Studios about the challenges of making the film and getting the physics of the feathers right.
  • “Come and Fly with Me” Music Video – (4:34) Featuring music video and sing along karaoke with “Come and Fly with Me” by Jewels Jasselle and Benji Heard.


“Adventures in Zambezia” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD.  Also, a slipcover case is included.

“Adventures in Zambezia” is an entertaining,enjoyable family film that takes a “Finding Nemo” concept, but instead, featuring fish, you have birds.

Of course, “Adventures in Zambezia” didn’t have the luxury of a having a huge budget of a Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks animated film, nor did it have a large pool of talent to tap into.  But for Triggerfish Animation Studios, it was important for the company to create their own feature-length animated film and to create the best animated film that they can.  And with a lot of research, trying to get the physics right and eventually going overseas to find the voice talent but also to receive the assistance from Skywalker Studios.

While some may compare “Adventures in Zambezia” with the major Hollywood animated films (or even “The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”), I rather not go there.  In fact, I applaud Triggerfish Animation Studios for wanting to create an animated feature and to show that South Africa can create their own animated film.The creators of the “Adventures in Zambezia” knew that they had limitations but at the same time, the drive and passion to create the best animated film with the resources that they had provided to them.

While the detail may not be anywhere near a Pixar film, the film still looks good.  And for the most part, this is an animated film created for the family and I found it to be fun, exciting but also a film with lessons that children can learn from.

Yes, the storyline of a child and its parent having a disagreement can be banal, what Triggerfish Animation Studios brings to “Adventures in Zambezia” is to bring their South African culture into this film.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film is colorful and vibrant in HD, lossless audio is also very good as the action sequences utilizes the surround channels quite well.  There are a few special features in which we are introduced to how the South African company approached the film and overcame various challenges.

One should not expect spectacular Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks Animation or a similar style with a magnificent budget to work with “Adventures in Zambezia”, but one can expect very good animation and a fun family animated film for the entire family.

Overall, “Adventures in Zambezia” is a fun family animated film with an enjoyable story with a South African-style.  This may be the first major project from Triggerfish Animation Studios but from what they were able accomplish with the resources and budget to work with, one can hope we see more animation coming out of South Africa.  Recommended!

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