‘FernGully: The Last Rainforest’ was the likely catalyst for many 90s youth to be concerned about rainforests. While it may have taken some time to realize that the real threat to rainforests is actually human beings rather than an evil spirit named Hexxus, it still helped young viewers understand that preserving our world’s rainforests should be a priority. The 1992 animated film is today’s Throwback Thursday—a look at sci-fi of the past.
Directed by Bill Kroyer and adapted from the book by Diana Young, the story takes place in a magical Australian rainforest called FernGully inhabited by fairies. FernGully was once haunted by a force of evil known as Hexxus (Tim Curry) who is now imprisoned in a tree. Our fairy protagonist Crysta (Samantha Mathis) happens upon some lumberjacks cutting down trees and manages to shrink one of them, Zak (Jonathon Ward), down to fairy-size in an effort to save him from a falling tree. Crysta teaches Zak about how important rainforests are. However, Zak’s lumberjack coworkers cut down the tree that has imprisoned Hexxus, unleashing a deadly threat to FernGully.
‘FernGully: The Last Rainforest’ features Robin Williams in his first animated role, a bat that’s the victim of human experimentation named Batty. (Williams went on to voice Genie in ‘Aladdin’ that same year.) Christian Slater lends his voice to the character of Pips. Plus, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong reunite to voice the characters of Stump and Root.
‘FernGully: The Last Rainforest’ did pretty okay at the box office, especially since Disney animated movies were dominating at the time. But unlike ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and ‘Aladdin’, ‘FernGully: The Last Rainforest’ had a relevant message rather than a story dedicated to wish fulfillment. For those of us who happened to have seen ‘FernGully’, we can still recall the movie as we witness the depletion of Earth’s resources… and ‘Avatar’ being the exact same story.