Stealing a march - or should that be swim - on next month’s 3D re-release of Finding Nemo, Sammy’s Great Escape is a sweet and inoffensive computer animation with a gentle message about mankind’s plundering of underwater resources.
Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen’s film is a sequel to the 2010 Belgian picture A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventure, about a sea turtle who is washed far away from his atoll but eventually finds his way home.
In the sequel, the diminutive hero is now all grown up and has to risk life and flippers to escape from an underwater aquarium, where wealthy tourists pay small fortunes to survey the stolen specimens.
The warning at the heart of Domonic Paris’s simplistic script is clear: leave nature alone or we risk the destruction of entire ecosystems.
Sammy’s Great Escape begins straight after the events of A Turtle’s Tale with Sammy (voiced by Wesley Johnny) and his sweetheart Shelley (Isabelle Fuhrman) proudly welcoming their tiny grandchildren into the world.
Nearby, Sammy’s best friend Ray (Carlos McCullers II) and his soulmate take care of their brood.
The adult greenbacks and leatherbacks stand guard over the adorable hatchlings, protecting the newborns from circling gulls.
The turtles are so focussed on airborne attacks, they fail to notice poachers, who capture Sammy and Ray and transport the animals to a vast undersea complex in Dubai.
Two hatchlings, Ella and Ricky, are also snared by the poachers and join their grandparents on the terrifying adventure. En route to the aquarium, the children escape captivity and chase after their grandparents, aided by an octopus called Margaret and her baby daughter, Annabel.
Meanwhile, the turtles settle into new surroundings and befriend a split-personality lobster called Lulu (Joe Thomas), who treats his claws like puppets, and a bug-eyed blob fish called Jimbo.
Sammy and Ray hope to orchestrate a mass escape from the man-made environment but the plan has to be sanctioned by a maniacal seahorse known as Big D, who reigns over the underwater kingdom with his electric eel bodyguards Philippe and Marco.
“He rules this place with an iron fin,” explains one captured specimen.
Like its predecessor, Sammy’’ Great Escape is pitched at a very young audience and there is very little in Kesteloot and Stassen’s film to engage parents and carers.
The visuals are slightly more polished than the first film but still lack the impeccable detail of Finding Nemo, which is now 10 years old.
Grains of sand don’t move convincingly as turtles shuffle towards the sea and the characters aren’t hugely expressive.
Vocal performances are solid and kids will enjoy the slapstick but parents may want to take 40 winks under the sea.
:: NO SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 5/10
(U, 93 min) Animation/Family/Drama. Featuring the voices of Wesley Johnny, Carlos McCullers II, Isabelle Fuhrman, Billy Unger, Joe Thomas, Pat Carroll. Directors: Vincent Kesteloot, Ben Stassen.
Released: February 15 (UK & Ireland)