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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

BACK TO GAYA (article first published : 2007-03-11)

A computer-generated animated feature marking a collaboration between Germany, Spain and Britain, Back to Gaya, is perhaps of most note for marking the last score by Michael Kamen, who reportedly died before he could complete it, his orchestrators filling out the unfinished sketches.

It's the story of hirsute and pointy-eared characters who live in the colourful fantasy land of the film title. This is a world which, unbeknown to the Gayans and their mortal enemies, the bullying The Snurks, exists only in a fictional television series of the same title.

Gaya's existence relies on the magic of a golden orb, called a Dalamite, which is held in the palm of a bloom-shaped contraption atop a high tower.

So when it is stolen - zapped up into the heavens, through a series of glowing, floating rings - it becomes imperative for brave inventor Boo (voiced by Alan Mariot) and his brawnier sidekick, Zino (Glen Wrage), to try to retrieve it.

Their subsequent journey sees them, and a couple of Snurks, being drawn into another world that is both strange and frightening – our everyday reality.

It is only when the pair leave Gaya, together with the mayor’s feisty, Lara Croft-like daughter, Atlanta (the voice of Emily Watson), that they realise they are the heroes of a TV series.

The intrepid adventurers, transported into the real world by an evil scientist resembling Gollum from Lord of the Rings, learn this fact when they come face to face with their "creator", a TV scriptwriter called Drollinger (the voice by Patrick Stewart).

They don’t have much time to reflect upon the peculiarities of the human world. After all, they have a mystery to solve. The characters have three questions that need to be urgently solved: who stole the Dalamite and why? And how did they manage to get into Gaya in the first place?

Although impressively animated with much attention to detail, Back To Gaya disappoints with a distinct lack of humour, its script being largely lacklustre. It should, however, hold some appeal for children under 11. Rating: 5/10. – Billy Suter




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