Originally written for Cinemaaxis.com
Based on a true story circa early 1940’s Belfast, fictionalised to make for a family movie, Zoo centres around Tom, a young teen whose father has left home to fight for his country. He worked at the local zoo, which had just received a baby elephant. Tom and ‘Buster’ form an instant bond.
When the Blitz comes and bombs start dropping, the events that unfold cause Tom to want to save the elephant from the zoo, and he enlists the help of fairly shallow but nonetheless enjoyable characters who are very different and sometimes quite funny.
A selling point seems to be that this film has a character from Game of Thrones, but Art Parkinson, while playing the main character, is shoved firmly into background for the second part of the film, as the other characters we meet are much more interesting and funny.
This is a very polished film with great production values and camerawork, though many elements seem generic, especially the music and the ending. It is certainly not a film that will stand out from the crowd. However, this is great for a film the whole family film can watch, one that provides laughs for younger audiences while maintaining a tense atmosphere of bombs falling, combined with other tense scenes arising from the kids trying to save Buster.
Zoo is unsurprising in almost every way. However, it is far from dull and is a great feel-good film for younger audiences. A message they may take home is that despite our intellect, it does not put us above animals, and it doesn’t give us the right to kill them for no good reason. Due to the fun nature of Zoo, this message will resonate with younger viewers, even if they don’t realise it.