Film Review: A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures

Even the youngest of cinemagoers need some semblance of a plot to keep them entertained. While A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures’ use of 3D may be alluring, the film is let down by poor writing.

Sammy’s first encounter with danger occurs minutes after he hatches. Sammy survives the incident, but goes on to face further danger on his fifty-year long journey across the seas. During this time, the turtle meets new friends, encounters humans, and sees the world change…

A Turtle’s Tale screenwriter Domonic Paris seems to have made no attempt to create an engaging narrative. The film covers the fifty years in the life of a turtle, yet nothing particularly remarkable happens. There is no real sense of danger in the scenes that are meant to be dramatic, and the only comedy is the unintentional humour derived from the accompanying soundtrack. Instead of score, A Turtle’s Tale features a number of well-known tunes; their inclusion seems at odds with the nature of the film.

The bland writing is exacerbated by the complete lack of character development. All the characters in the film are one-dimensional. Even protagonist Sammy, who may be cute but is given very little personality. There is even less of an effort with the supporting characters. Sammy and Ray are supposed to be friends who have spent years together, but there is nothing that particularly conveys their closeness. None of the characters have any rapport with each other, thanks to the lazy writing.

Instead of an interesting narrative with the purpose of entertaining, the filmmakers noticeably push their agenda. A Turtle’s Tale is a warning on the implications of pollution and the harm humans do to animals and the environment. There is nothing wrong with this message, but there is zero subtlety in the delivery. Instead of feeding this message into the plot, A Turtle’s Tale takes every opportunity to harp on about the damage created by humans. The entire film is geared to endorse this message. As a result, it feels as if director Ben Stassen is preaching rather than attempting to entertain.

The animation is fine, but not exceptional. Where A Turtle’s Tale excels is in its use of 3D. The images look fantastic, particularly on a big screen. It is a pity that the film was not engineered as a documentary; it may have worked better in this format. A Turtle’s Tale is likely to leave even young children frustrated with its lack of ideas.

A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures was shown at the BFI IMAX as a special British Film Institute members screening.