There is no doubt that the technology behind the modern cinematic animation is nothing short of incredible. Since 1939 when the Walt Disney Studios released ‘Snow White’ initiating s new format, the feature-length animated film, the field has been changing practically with every single movie released. As such it is no longer enough to consider such a film only on their technical merits. As a matured part of the art form, it is now time to judge such films solely on their technical achievement and hold their story content up to the same scrutiny and criteria as we would any other film. For a couple of years now my pick for best film, animated or live action, has been an animated movie from Disney/Pixar; first ‘Wall-E’ followed by ‘Up.' The levels of technical achievement for these films are unsurpassed, but that is not what put them on so many top movie lists. What set them apart was a story with something for everyone making it truly a family film. It also presented the story in such a fashion that you forget you are not watching a live action performance and emotionally connect to the characters and their situations. That brings us to the movie under consideration here, ‘G-Force.' It is a nice flick, endearing in its unique way but unfortunately for it, the film cannot reach the incredibly high bar of quality set by the films above. The movie starts out with one of the most bizarre premises I have encountered in a very long time; what if ‘James Bond was a hamster? It is a cute little film but does gear too young to be in competition for top honors. For and adult to get into the movie they have to be capable of turning over the higher functions of their brain to the control of their inner child.
The screenplay was devised by the husband/wife team of Cormac and Marianne Wibberley. Together they have mostly collaborated with other writers on movies like ‘Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,' ‘I Spy’ and the ‘Shaggy Dog.' This at least demonstrates some variety in the scope and themes in their stories. In the case of this script, they focused their sights on about the pre-teen market so many adults may find it a bit difficult getting into the production unless you can manage to adopt the correct frame of mind. Just go into viewing this one as an extended bedtime story and suspend reason. Let’s face it; Guinea Pigs with advanced espionage techniques, you have to put in a whole lot of suspension of belief to get through this one if you have passed the legal age to drive.
This is the first time out as a director for Hoyt Yeatman, but he does have an impressive resume in the area of visual effects that were not restricted to animation. In that capacity, he has worked on the full gamut from ‘Sky High’ to ‘The Princess Diaries.' This did give him an excellent handle on how the movie so look. This was extremely important here since the flick was released in a new 3D process. One aspect of this that worked noticeably better than other similar films is Yeatman’s restraint in showing off the process. There is not the usual string of shots featuring cylindrical objects seemingly shooting out at the audience. Instead, he went for a more natural almost subtle use of the effect. This just adds another facet to the animation without becoming annoying as in most recent 3D fare. While the story targets younger than ideal for enjoyment by all, it is visual interest enough to hold everyone’s attention.
For some years, the FBI has been training animals for use in very special covert operations. This is made possible by the development of a device that allows humans to communicate directly with small mammals in the squad. They, in turn, can relay orders to the lower life forms that include flies and cockroaches. Guinea pig Darwin (voiced by Sam Rockwell) is the field leader of the G-Force. Other members include another Guinea pigs Juarez (voiced by Penelope Cruz), a martial arts master, expert and Blaster (voiced by Tracy Morgan), a weapons expert and computer whiz Speckles (voiced by Nicolas Cage), a star-nosed mole. The team discovers that they are up to a financial review and most likely will be disbanded. Their headquarters leader Ben (Zach Galifianakis) hopes that one big mission will prove their worth and sees potential when an unauthorized surveillance turns up a plot by home appliance mogul Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy) to control the world through his appliances that are in almost every home and office. They have only 29 hours to prove the plot and find some means to disrupt it.
On the positive side of the equation, this is a nice little story that is told at a breakneck pace that will at least pull in the kiddies and keep them fully engaged for about 90 minutes or so. There are both standard DVD and high definition Blu-ray versions, but this is another case where you should go high def it at all possible. Besides, following the new standard for a Disney release the Blu-ray edition also contains the regular DVD and a digital copy disc to take the flick on the road. The graphics are amazing in the level of clarity and attention to the smallest details. The audio is presented in a robust DTS-HD MA 5.1 that will give your entire system a good workout. This is a fun time but could have been better.
The re-release of this film is the latest in a continued incentive undertaken by the Walt Disney studio has undertaken to apply the latest pinnacle of home theater technology to a sizeable portion of their illustrious catalog of animated films. Technically this movie is a hybrid blending live action with a significant use of animated elements. In fact, this was among the studio’s first wave of Disney Digital 3-D in connection with a live action vehicle. As with other films made with this process the transition to the 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer in use here is smoother resulting in much better results. It is still easier from a technological standpoint to bring out that illusive third dimension if the artists involved in the production of the film had 3D in mind as a design parameter. There is still a noticeable amount of showing off by thrusting roughly cylindrical objects out of the plane on the screen. The effects here are transitional with the third dimension finally gaining a foothold as a valid technique to tell a story instead of a gimmick. This round of 3D Blu-ray titles has also made significant progress towards the one caveat that has been directed at the home use of polarized 3D, softness around the edges. The issue will not be completely resolved until the 4K high definition comes to play but the use of the current resolution has improved greatly. Here, some compromise was made, but the overall sharpness has not been diminished. If you require demonstrable evidence of this, compare the rendering of the fur in the lead characters between its depiction in the standard Blu-ray and the 3D version. You will be hard pressed to find a meaningful difference. In both cases, you can readily see individual hairs and vivid colors. The palate and saturation are perfectly balanced. As for the audio, it is beyond reproach. The sound field encompasses the living room sonically reinforcing the solidity manifested by the video. Although this is admittedly not the greatest member of the Disney family, the presentation helps to make this a very enjoyable family fun night.
Posted 11/06/11 07/12/2017