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Review: In ‘Spark: A Space Tail,’ no one can hear you scream (or will care)

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Spark (voiced by Jace Norman) in the animated film “Spark: A Space Tail.”
(Open Road Films)

The best animated films inspire wonder in the minds of audiences, but the family movie “Spark: A Space Tail” creates only incredulity. One questions how a movie this ill-conceived even got made, and how writer-director Aaron Woodley recruited a voice cast that includes talent like Susan Sarandon, Patrick Stewart and Hilary Swank.

Teenage space chimpanzee Spark (Jace Norman of Nick’s “Henry Danger”) is eager to escape the planetary shard where he has been raised by his friends fox Vix (Jessica Biel) and warthog Chunk (Rob deLeeuw) since the destruction of his planet 13 years earlier. Spark sneaks out on an adventure, but it pits him against the evil Zhong (Alan C. Peterson), the ape responsible for his community’s plight.

The space setting offers opportunity for some nice work with depth as heroes zoom and dive between planetary shards (without the apparent need to breathe air), and the backgrounds are nicely detailed. However, the character design falls short of what audiences have come to expect, showing little texture and even less emotion in the faces of Spark, Vix and the other animals on-screen.

Kids may enjoy some of the humor and the presence of cute space roaches (seriously), but parents will have little patience for the nonsensical script. “Spark” should earn points for originality, but it never invests in establishing its world or its characters in a way that engages viewers.

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‘Spark: A Space Tail’

Rating: PG, for some action and rude humor

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

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Playing: In general release

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