Escape From Planet Earth (2D)
Cert: U / 86 mins / Dir. Cal Brunker
I arrived at my local cinema with rather low expectations for this, and these were pushed even lower as I had my own private screening of the film (in my experience, being the only patron in the auditorium is a sign of little public interest in the film, usually because the film in question is a bit crap). But after wincing through the trailers for the horrors that youngsters in the UK will be subjected to this year*1, and through Harrison Ford smiling unconvincingly for money, the movie began…
Now, there's a reason that Escape From Planet Earth has been released in The Movie Graveyard Shift and also not during a half-term, and that's because it's astoundingly average. Your padawans will not be begging you to take them to this, and it's doubtful you'll be upgrading your home-cinema setup once it's released on Blu-Ray. From the B-List voice talent, to the god-awful dance-pop soundtrack, to the character-design that looks like it came pre-loaded with the software*2, there's little here that you haven't seen done before, and better. The plot is a strictly mechanical A+B+C=D, but E, F and G! affair, and while that's fine for the younger audience, they've already seen films like Wreck-It Ralph and Monsters Inc with a much higher story-concept. And to cap the whole thing off, Ricky Gervais stars as the voice of a sarcastic computer operating system, and is out-of-place to the extent that they've laid a fuzz-filter over his voice, suggesting to me that he phoned the performance in literally as well as metaphorically. Elsewhere, the casting director seems to have been so intent on getting Named Actors, that matching their voices to the characters never seemed to be a factor. Rob Corddry and Jonathan Morgan Heit seem to be the only solid choices for their father/son combo; everyone else's parts could quite easily be recast with no adverse affect on the film.
And yet, there are moments in the script which are genuine, sci-fi references which work well without being shoehorned in*3, as well as a lot of fantastic slapstick. By the time you've piled in a load of Area 51 references (some subtle, most not), the film becomes far more watchable than you feel it should be. A U-Certificate doesn't mean a movie has to be dull, but it does mean it's going to be 'safe'. Keep that in mind, and Escape From Planet Earth becomes something worthwhile to keep the youngsters entertained; although it's doubtful that you'll be badgered into buying whatever merchandise they've produced for the film.
For best results, file alongside Turbo and Planes. And considering those two were made by 'players' in the game, Escape From Planet Earth suddenly doesn't seem too shabby. Well, not quite so shabby, anyway.
I chuckled often, but that was about it.
Cinema if you want the 3D, otherwise this is a strictly DVD affair.
Only if my nephew/niece insists on putting it on.
Not that I heard, and this sort of thing usually has one. There's a chance it was buried of course, but I didn't pick it up. Fair enough.
Brendan Fraser's better than this though, isn't he? ...Isn't he?
*1 The Postman Pat Movie appears to be a calculated insult to the TV episodes that are being made now, never mind the original series. Any parent who takes their child to this really shouldn't be raising a human at all…
*2 Although to be fair, the texturing and rendering themselves are absolutely gorgeous, it's just a shame they weren't used for something more creative.
*3 "James… Cameron… Get the aliens!". Oh, come on, I thought that was pretty good for a film where most of the parents will have stopped concentrating half an hour prior to that line.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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