The Legend of Sarila: Film Review

Christopher Plummer's wonderful vocal turn is the sole compelling element of this otherwise routine Canadian CGI-animated film.

Young members of an Inuit clan journey to a mystical land to save their people from starvation in Canada's first-ever 3D animated film.

Representing Canada’s first-ever 3D animated feature, The Legend of Sarila is mainly notable for its tapping into Inuit culture for its tale of three young people journeying to a mystical land to rescue their people from starvation. Narratively muddled and visually undistinguished, Nancy Florence Savard’s CGI film is unlikely to register as little more than a curiosity here despite the presence of such notable Canadian thesps as Christopher Plummer and Genevieve Bujold among the voice performers.

Set in the early twentieth century, the story concerns an Inuit tribe increasingly threatened by a famine inflicted by an evil goddess. Croolik (Plummer), the resident shaman, is unable to solve the problem, but an elderly wise woman (Bujold) advises the tribe that plentiful food can be found in the far-off land of Sarila, a place where only “the pure of heart” can enter.

Setting off in search of its bounty are three young people: Poutulik (Tim Rozen), the village chief’s son; his beautiful fiancée Apik (Rachelle Lefeverre ), who brings along her adorable pet lemming; and Markussi (Dustin Mulligan), who possesses budding shamanistic powers of his own. Desperate to preserve his standing in the tribe, Croolik attempts to sabotage the mission with the aid of his crow minion, Kwatak.

Infused with plenty of adventures involving thin ice and menacing bears, the film hyperactively lurches from one frenzied action sequence to the next, insuring that young viewers’ attention spans won’t be too sorely tested. But the one-note characterizations and predictable animation tropes quickly prove wearisome, and despite the exoticism of its setting The Legend of Sarila ultimately fails to enchant. It’s only the wonderful voice performances by the ever-reliable Bujold and Plummer -- the latter providing the same sort of virtuosic energy that he exudes in his Shakespearean roles -- that give it any distinction.

Opens Nov. 1 (Phase 4 Films)

Production: CarpeDiem Film & TV, 10th Ave Productions

Cast: Christopher Plummer, Rachelle Lefevre, Dustin Mulligan, Tim Rozen, Genevieve Bujold

Director: Nancy Florence Savard

Screenwriters: Pierre Tremblay, Roger Harvey

Adaptor: Paul Risacher

Producers: Marie-Claude Beauchamp, Normand Thauvette

Executive producers: Marie-Claude Beauchamp, Nancy Florence Savard, Paul Risacher

Art Director: Philippe Arseneau-Bussieres

Editors: Arthur Tarnowski, Robert Yates

Composer: Olivier Auriol

Not rated, 82 min.