REVIEW: ‘Riverdance: The Animated Adventure’ is a Bit Off-Beat

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Riverdance The Animated Adventure - But Why Tho

Riverdance: The Animated Adventure is a children’s animated Netflix Original directed by Eamonn Butler and Dave Rosenbaum, written by Rosenbaum and Tyler Werrin, and produced by Aniventure and River Productions. Inspired by the acclaimed Riverdance, in Riverdance: The Animated Adventure, Keegan (Sam Hardy) loses his grandfather (Pierce Brosnan), the keeper of a lighthouse that holds a dark force at bay. Unfortunately, Keegan doesn’t really believe in his grandad’s stories and of course, leaves the lamp unlit in his grief. As such, the Huntsman (Brendan Gleeson) has been set loose and he is set on collecting the antlers of Patrick (Brosnan), the king of the Megaloceros Giganteus whose powers make the Irish rivers flow. Keegan and his best friend Moya (Hannah Herman) must keep the world safe.

I will start with what works well, because Riverdance is a perfectly fine movie that doesn’t deserve to be totally debased. The music by Riverdance’s original composer Bill Whelan, as well as the dances that feature choreography from the stage play, are joyous and will inspire you to give the play a watch. The giant elk also have great designs and there are some really touching moments emotionally throughout the movie.

Unfortunately, though, the movie is just a big plate of nothing special. The characters, besides Moya, are generally forgettable and the animation feels rather flat most of the time, despite nice coloring and backgrounds. This prevails especially during several dance sequences. Virtually none of the conflict with the Huntsman happens in the whole first half, making the confrontation confusing when it does finally occur. And despite some cutesy animal friends throughout the adventure, there’s never really a “gathering allies” step in Keegan’s hero’s journey. He just makes a ton of mistakes, doesn’t really rectify any of them or suffer consequences, and then abruptly wins the day in the end through no character growth or meaningful lessons. He gets closure, but it doesn’t come at the end of a particularly satisfying journey to get there.

Riverdance is also a strangely violent movie for its young target audience. There is more than one instance of gun violence with serious consequences, the very early death of Keegan’s grandad, and some other fights that just feel more mature in all than I would have anticipated from this movie. It’s not a bad thing on its own, but as mentioned, the fact that Keegan causes some really terrible things to happen and never suffers any consequence for it is pretty disappointing.

Additionally, if Riverdance is meant to be a movie in the same spirit as many great children’s animations that aim to capture the intimate traditions and cultures of a particular community while also making that culture accessible to a broad audience, I can’t attest to its success on that front. On one hand, obviously, the Irish dancing and folklore are meant specifically to invoke Irishness. But it doesn’t lean very heavily into the uniquely Irish aspects of any of it. The movie also features several clearly not-Irish voice actors who play some of the Megaloceros Giganteus in a way that feels very, very jarring. Why would these ancient Irish creatures not all have Irish accents? Besides because the two characters in question are played by non-white actors and their accents are clearly meant to be played off as “cool” in a way that further added to the discomfort.

The one thing I do really enjoy about Riverdance is its message about how there’s no one kind of person who can be Irish and that everyone brings their own unique selves to their communities. Moya’s family is originally from Spain and she and the elk she finds kingship with, Penny (Lilly Singh), both display these morals well. The flamenco she brings to her Irish dancing really serves her part of the story and its message well. I also deeply appreciate that she and Keegan are truly just best friends with no attempts at overt or subtle romanticisms between them. Kids of different genders are allowed to just be friends and this is rarely displayed in kids’ movies like this.

Riverdance: The Animated Adventure isn’t a bad movie, it just isn’t particularly memorable either. It has a few things that work really well and some others that I could have done without, but in all, its characters and animation are just not especially memorable in the sea of children’s animation you can watch.

Riverdance: The Animated Adventure is streaming now on Netflix.


Riverdance: The Animated Adventure
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

Riverdance: The Animated Adventure isn’t a bad movie, it just isn’t particularly memorable either. It has a few things that work really well and some others that I could have done without, but in all, its characters and animation are just not especially memorable in the sea of children’s animation you can watch.

But Why Tho? A Geek Community
%d bloggers like this: