In the animated adventure PLOEY a small bird has to prove itself against dangerous predators and also learn to fly. Anyone who has been following what’s happening in the cinema over the last few weeks will probably be familiar with this. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
To survive the harsh winter months, Ploey (voice: Jamie Oram), a young golden plover, must embark on a dangerous journey all alone to find a legendary valley that lies in the heart of the mountainous region. All the while, he tries to hide from the ever-watchful eyes of a ravenous hawk who has terrorized his family and friends for years and recently killed his father. Unfortunately, Ploey has massive difficulties learning to fly! But luckily he meets many new friends on his journey who can not only protect him from the robber, but maybe even help him believe in himself and therefore that he can fly…
Movie explanation of the ending
It happens every now and then that two films on the same topic are made at the same time. In the last few weeks, for example, two productions have appeared about the shooting spree on the Norwegian island of Utøya (“Utøya July 22nd” by Erik Poppe and “July 22nd” by Paul Greengrass). But also a terrorist attack on the White House (“White House Down” and “Olympus Has Fallen”), the idea of two best friends having sex with each other (“Friendship Plus” and “Friends with Benefits”) and a biopic about it Winston Churchill (“Churchill” and “The Darkest Hour”) were written almost simultaneously within a few months. One can only speculate about the extent to which the two animated films “Gans im Glück” and “Ploey” are related to each other. However, the word “mockbuster” would most likely come to mind, even if the sweet 3D production about a gander taking two orphaned ducklings under his wing on his migration south obviously does not have the prestige of a million-dollar Hollywood production has. Normally, low-cost film companies tend to target big-budget projects in order to reshoot them with limited financial resources. However, the Icelandic-Belgian co-production “Ploey” is thematically so closely based on “Gans im Glück” that one inevitably has to draw a comparison with the technically far weaker contribution by director Árni Ásgeirsson, which also has an extremely strange moral (“Brim”) clearly loses out.
On his journey, Ploey meets many other birds, including a feisty ptarmigan.
Even if “Gans im Glück” and “Ploey” are very similar in their premise (a bird has to walk from the north to the south on its own because it cannot fly), this fact alone would not be a death sentence. After all, many children’s and family films are similar in their message, which often advocates solidarity and belief in yourself and your own abilities, which is why the stories are often similar in structure. In the case of “Ploey”, however, one begins to be concerned about the message. Screenwriter Friðrik Erlingsson (“Thor – An Awesome Adventure”) has his characters say directly several times that one should “rather die as a hero” than “live as a coward”; In view of current global political developments, this may perhaps hit a certain core; after all, we should all try to do our part to ensure that certain trends do not reach the broad masses of society. But in the context of the very simple story here, which is clearly aimed at a very young audience, such a statement is very irritating. With this statement in mind, the main character Ploey is supposed to serve as bait for the mortal enemy, the falcon, and in case of doubt he would rather let himself be eaten instead of seeking protection from his family. If children take all of this at face value, the inhibition threshold for an ill-advised test of courage after this film is certainly low
This impression of rashness continues in the figure drawing, whose one-dimensionality is reminiscent of certain motifs from horror films. The shark was established there a long time ago as one of the most dangerous animals in the world. Wolves have also often had to fear for their reputation due to their position in film and literature (keyword: “The Grey”). In “Ploey” it is the falcon who has to believe in it. The script literally stylizes the bird of prey into a bloodthirsty beast and since the makers otherwise make a certain effort to emphasize the different characteristics of individual bird species, the very one-sided view of the carnivorous, but by no means brutal or even nihilistic bird, which is the case here, is surprising is still equipped with nasty ulterior motives. Next to the ptarmigan as a survivor, the clever golden plover and the naive swallow – to name just a few of the birds portrayed here – the falcon seems more like a caricature. And that doesn’t fit in with the rest at all, which is why we wouldn’t be surprised if a child after watching the film firmly believes that a falcon is the most evil creature on the planet.
“Ploey” is most convincing in its quiet moments.
Apart from the two most negatively striking details, the message and the one-sided characterization of the villain, “Ploey” unfortunately doesn’t have much else to offer. The creators are taking a genre-conforming approach to their conventional encouraging story, which means that they are taking a very simple approach and are hardly able to gain any new facets from the tried and tested concept. Over the course of the briskly told 83 minutes, the eponymous main character slowly begins to outgrow himself until, in the dynamic final chord, she finally single-handedly takes down the villain. Until then, there are a few quiet moments every now and then (in the best scene of the film, an initially very reserved ptarmigan and Ploey discover some things in common, which leads them to become friends) that turn out to be the best thing about the film. There is also a bit of slapstick, funny sidekicks in the form of mice who are primarily responsible for that slapstick. And of course the happy ending, in which the lost family members can finally hug each other again, is inevitable. If you’ve never seen a film with this formula, you might at least get something out of it, but even as one of the first film experiences for children, we only want to recommend “Ploey” to a limited extent. From a technical point of view, there is much better to see on the market. The Icelandic-Belgian project can’t even compete with videoware. The low-detail backgrounds and the gross motor movements of the animals look like something from a television series from twenty years ago, which of course comes across particularly well (or better: poorly) on the screen. We therefore recommend that you choose the much more charming “Gans im Glück”, which will be released in the home cinema in a few months.
Conclusion: “Ploey” follows the narrative conventions of typical encouraging children’s films for a long time, but trips itself up with a strange message and is also irritating with a very simple drawing of the villain character. And visually the film doesn’t cut a good figure either.
“Ploey” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from October 18th.