Let's remember 2009 as a year that several studios pushed the envelope with special effects, and at least tried to make it in the service of story. The culmination of that would be Avatar, of course, but producer Jerry Bruckheimer has been pushing, too. Thanks to his collaboration with Disney, that seems to get lost in his reputation of a master of explosions.
Once again, I'm going to emphasize that he tried to put it in the service of story this past summer, with a kids' movie called G-Force. Like Robert Rodriguez' film Shorts, it was a largely CG movie actually inspired by a child's idea. But Bruckheimer and his machinery pushed it to another level, serving up an action-packed comedy for the younger set that was obviously meant to parody his work so the adults could get a chuckle.
Visually, G-Force is impressive, featuring some top-notch CG animal work. You can see the difference on the Blu-Ray in watching the extras, where the budget wasn't quite there to animate the guinea pigs. It's still good, but the movie takes it further.
Where it can't take it further on a television set (yet) is the third dimension. While that won't irk kids, it's obviously been designed for a lot of "in your face" moments that fall flat to a seasoned eye. Though 3-D works reasonably well on home video - see Coraline -- Disney chose not to include that as an option on this release.
As a film to keep the kids entertained, G-Force is a smashing success. The kids in my house have watched it four times (and counting), laughing at all the right things and being surprised by the twists and turns in the story of this elite government spy squad of guinea pigs, kind of like Grant Morrison's We3 amped up and at the same time simplified.
They've been trained to save the world, but the project gets shut down and they get sold as pets, but of course a world-level threat calls them out of retirement. In a brief poll of my children, this was their favorite part, seeing the G-Force escape from their domestic lives as pets and returning to secret agent status. Oh, and there's a killer robot in there, too, so it's exactly what Director Hoyt Yeatman, Jr. wanted to achieve - cute and cool.
On the adult level, G-Force doesn't work quite as
well, though it's a movie full of hip actors and comedians.
Among the live actors that will give you a double-take are
Bill Nighy, seeming to enjoy his turn in a kids' movie,
Will Arnett and, most twisted of all, Zach Galiafanakis.
Yes, the guy shot with both barrels, delivering both this
and The Hangover last year.
Giving his most subtle and unrecognizable performance of the year, Nicolas Cage voices a star-nosed mole. It almost reminds you that he can act, and not just star. Sam Rockwell plays the lead guinea pig, Darwin, Steve Buscemi supports him, but the kids all really just love Tracy Morgan as the hip guinea pig Blaster.
The Blu-Ray DVD knows this, too, letting Morgan lead the extras that may actually be a little inspiring to kids. There's a touching short on Yeatman and his now 11 year old son, who came up with the idea when he was 5. Even if the other special effects documentaries don't quite spark the younger kids' attention, it's sweet to see a dad run with his son's idea, without glossing over the hard work it took to make it practical.
Somewhat disappointingly given Blu-Ray capabilities, the
disc doesn't include any games. However, there was a multi-platform
push with the movie's summer release, which may have kept
the DVD producers for pushing for something here.
Still, it's a reasonably priced Blu-Ray disc, with the
Disney triple threat of regular DVD and digital copy included.
And everything blows up real good on a kid-safe level.