Apparently the first CGI animation designed to play in ScreenX, Butterfly Tale‘s hideously ugly character design will receive zero benefit from being screened in a panoramic format. A co-production between Canada and Germany -the latter country something of a wellspring of mid-range animation in recent years – Butterfly Tale is a simple story about both the power of cooperation and the discovery of one’s own unique talents, but its perfunctory plotting and horribly cheap visuals  overpower its inclusive message.

Patrick (Mena Massoud) is a teenage butterfly who is told he can’t migrate down to Mexico with the rest of his flutter due to his undeveloped wing. He and his friend Marty the caterpillar (Lucinda Davis) resolve to stow away in the provisions cart towed by Jennifer (Tatiana Maslaney), a butterfly who is happy to bring up the rear of the migration due to her fear of heights. The three get separated from the rest of the migration and have to work together to overcome their problems and reunite with their families.

Even if Butterfly Tale was a rip-roaring kids’ adventure, it would be hard-pushed to get past its animation. It might take a while to process that the film is even about butterflies given that side from their wings and antenna, they are distinctly human-looking, down to clothing and hairstyles. It’s a weird choice made worse by them being so cheaply rendered, bringing to mind the now 30-year-old kids’ sci-fi show ReBoot.

The story itself is perfunctory, falling somewhere between A Bug’s Life and The Incredible Journey. It’s rather bland and inoffensive, with the relatively small amount of peril faced by the protagonists suggesting Butterfly Tale is aimed at younger children. This wouldn’t feel quite so egregious if it didn’t fail so badly in other areas. Beside the strangely creepy visual are the phoned in voice performances. At least the English dub has been done convincingly in sync from the original German, but the flat delivery is inescapable. And in Marty the caterpillar you have a character so overly chatty and annoying he makes Donkey in Shrek look like Gromit.

While very young children may get something out of the simple storytelling and the admittedly vibrant colour palette, everyone else would be more than happy to see these butterflies pinned to a board. How this is getting a cinema release is baffling, as putting it on the biggest screen possible will just highlight the film’s obvious deficiencies even more.

In selected cinemas from Fri 19 Apr 2024