Zodiac: The Race Begins
Zodiac: The Race Begins (Chinese: 生肖传奇) is a CGI film produced by Singapore's Cubix Pictures. The film was released in the city state on January 26, 2006.
It is Singapore's first 3D animated film and recounts the legend behind the ancient Chinese zodiac on how 12 animals came to be chosen as its symbols. Its script, researched by Singapore-based freelance playwright and former crosstalk celebrity Zhao Jin, incorporates eight myths.
In 2007, it was released in Malaysia on Disney Channel Asia in English.
A long time ago, the great Buddha gave the eminent Jade Emperor the task of ruling the celestial and mortal worlds. Although the Emperor has made the mortal world a peaceful and tranquil place, which was thriving and prosperous, man still did not have an awareness of time. With the absence of this facility, calamity was certain. To prevent this calamity, the Jade Emperor gave a celestial order: "Let it be known in the mortal world, that I, the Imperial Jade Emperor, shall appoint 12 animals to ascend to the celestial world. These 12 species of animals shall represent a cycle of 12 years with each animal representing a year. Any humans born in a particular animal's year shall bear that animal's mark and its strength. This representation shall be known as the Zodiac." But deep in the dark swamps, the thousand-year-old tree spirit hacks a plan of her own. Determined to thwart the plans of her long time enemy, the Jade Emperor, she sets forth to prevent the success of the Race by impeding the 12 chosen ones.
Why It Isn't a Race to the Finish
- Very ugly and nightmarish animation that will make kids wish they were scared of the Boogeyman.
- Even the animal characters on the film's cover, look dead-eye and creepy.
- Just like with Chicken Little, almost every single character is mean spirited and unlikable.
- The voice acting is beyond terrible.
- It has a generic "evil because evil" main villain that barely appears, and even the side villains (the cat, the owl, the fox, and the mud-skipper minions) don't show up much as well.
- Forgettable and trashy songs.
- Rancid and mishandled message about winning.
- False Advertising: On the English box art, it has the wrong fur coloring on the animals and the cover also shows the animation in hand-drawn, but in the film, the animation is CGI.
- Pointless running gag with the turtle.
- Even though the movie has twelve main protagonists, the film is more focused on just two (the rat and the ox), making the rest of the animals have barely little screen time.
- The narrator is completely worthless to the film and even so, he does a poor job at narrating the story, as he only stays a quarter of the way into the movie and then just shoos off, never to be heard from again.
- Some absurd scenes in the film:
- A very unrealistic moment where the rat was saving the ox by pulling him up with a rope.
- The snake abandoning her unborn eggs.
- The scene with the dragon trying to impress the snake by flooding an entire village (there's even a confirmation that he causes a number of casualties!).
- When the rat told the rabbit that the cat was coming after him, she slams the door in his face.
- The tiger jumping in the raging rapids because he thinks that rat and ox were taking a shortcut, even though they appear to be drowning.
- There's a scene where the villain chokes a crow and almost kills him which can be disturbing to some viewers.
- The ox is the only character that ever comes close to being likable, despite he is a pushover.
- It's one of the few rare times where someone made an adaptation based on The Chinese Zodiac story.
Brian Costello of Common Sense Media gave this film a 1/5 stars, writing that the film "is rife with unlistenable songs, unlikeable characters, terrible acting, and the thinnest of storylines".