Flushed Away (PG)

Animation 86 min. November 3, 2006
By Michael Nordine
Quite possibly the first film to open with an assurance that it isn’t based on real-life events, Flu may overestimate its ability to incite panic among germaphobic viewers. Kim Sung-su’s avian-flu drama foregoes the global pomp of a movie like Contagion in favor of a more centralized outbreak in Bundang, South Korea, presumably to maximize the effect among Korean moviegoers (over 2 million of whom have already seen it). Foreign blockbusters of this sort are often most interesting as a glimpse (however distorted) into their country’s national consciousness, and a climactic scene in which South Korea’s young, charismatic president defies an interloping Westerner’s orders is indeed Flu’s most revealing moment. But other than a sequence in which the authorities shoot birds out of the sky lest the winged disease-carriers spread the H5N1 virus even farther, Kim’s film is hackneyed even within the realm of Korean disaster movies—The Host this is not. All the familiar parts are there: brief prologue showing how the disease first spread, a precocious child who both raises the stakes and provides moments of adorable levity, and the ragtag group railing against the government’s cynical, for-the-greater-good plans to sacrifice the few for the many. Still, on a visceral level Flu mostly works in spite of its familiarity; these tropes exist for a reason, and Kim has enough discipline behind the camera to keep things reined in.
Sam Fell, Henry F Anderson III, David Bowers Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy, Shane Richie, Susan Duerden, Jean Reno, Douglas Weston Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais Cecil Kramer, Peter Lord, David Sproxton Paramount Pictures

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