"Zodiac: The Race Begins" fills in some of the holes from the old fable. Why were these twelve animals chosen? Why not The Elephant? (he was too big and dangerous). Why not The Cat? (she was too lazy and foolishly trusted the Rat to sign her up) After a truly horrible musical number (which is admittedly kind of catchy) the twelve chosen animals begin a race to the Jade Emperor's Heavenly Palace.
Some of the animals have to confront a villain described as The Evil Tree Spirit (?!) who's not very scary or relevant.
My main problem was character development. Obviously, this is a children's movie, but it would have been much more interesting to see an exciting race between the animals. Instead, the mildly annoying Rat and the hard-working Ox are the main characters and the other ten animals are relegated to the background. All the animals have at least one or two scenes, but most don't have much more than that.
Another problem is that the outcome is never in doubt. Anybody who knows anything about the Chinese Zodiac (as most of the audience presumably does) will know the exact order that the twelve animals finish. The director needed to find other ways to engage the audience, and he did not succeed.
The animation would be quite good for a student project, but it's just not up to par for a full-length international animated film. It's quite possible that young children won't notice these flaws, but this is not a "fun for all ages" quality production like Shrek or Japanese animated films.
Final Note: The Snake (my own sign) does sing a pretty song in the middle though.