The One And Only Ivan
Director: Thea Sharrock
Producers: Angelina Jolie, Allison Shearmur, Brigham Taylor
Release Date: 21st August 2020
Streaming Platform: Disney+
Star Cast: Bryan Cranston, Ramón Rodríguez, Ariana Greenblatt, Owain Arthur, Hannah Bourne, Mohammad Tiregar, Indira Varma, Eleanor Matsuura
Voices: Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Brooklynn Prince, Chaka Khan, Ron Funches, Phillipa Soo, Mike White
While trapped in a cage at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, a gorilla named Ivan teams up with a caring elephant named Stella to piece together his mysterious past and hatch a cunning escape from their shared captivity. Things change when a baby elephant named Ruby joins them. Based on a children’s book, the film chronicles the adventures of Ivan and the other animals as they try to escape captivity.
Disney's latest live-action/CGI movie is an interlinking movie about humans and animals, The One and Only Ivan, is based on the award-winning 2013 novel by K.A. Applegate. The story, which is based on the life of a real silverback gorilla that lived most of its life in captivity, follows a group of animals who live in a circus-style attraction located in a mall.
The animated movies are trickier to produce than given credit for but what’s more complex is this kind hybrid films, balancing the human and animated aspects at the same time.
This movie is placed on a realistic landscape, somewhere in the late 80s/early 90s of a mall set in the suburban area of a nondescript U.S. city. The film delivers a balanced and decent tale of animals living in captivity and dreaming of their freedom in the wild. There's a nice message at the heart of The One and Only Ivan about how animals should be treated and the decency of humans, though it gets a bit darker at few points.
As for the cast, they each turn in entirely serviceable performances. Rockwell serves as the centre of the movie as Ivan, and he gives an effective voice performance as the silverback gorilla. Similarly, Cranston's turn as the over-the-top Mack is fine, though the character is a bit confused by the movie, which paints the circus owner as a loving caretaker or an abusive animal trainer as the story sees fit.
As a result, Cranston does what he can to bring some heart to the role, though it's undercut by the script. The rest of the supporting voice and live-action cast is also very apt to the story flow.
It is a contemplative film, which shouldn’t be confused with being preachy or argumentative. The story doesn’t have a villain per se, and so the major clash of extremely opposite ideas won’t be there for those who anticipated it majorly. Mack is not shown as this epitome of an ultimate evil character. He is shown to exploit animals to earn cash, but he additionally genuinely cares about them and is mostly a tolerable character.
There is a fine balance of humorous tones as are the emotional moments in the film. The film makes sure not to bore its audience giving them conventionality or inconsistency and even monotones of emotions.
The technical features additionally make this movie larger than life on screen. The visuals, particularly the astoundingly detailed animals and music (most notably in emotional scenes) are each top-notch.
What’s interesting to note here is that, even though it is a fantasy film, it is extremely believable: true for not only this contemporary world but for many generations before us and the plight of animals in the hands of humans!