Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: Escape from Planet Earth

Passable animated entertainment is stronger on humor than adventure

Feb 15, 2013

-By Stephen Farber


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1371818-Escape_Earth_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

In a fallow period for kid-friendly entertainment, The Weinstein Company has shrewdly rushed in to fill the gap with Escape from Planet Earth. It was not screened in advance for critics, but then, how many eight-year-olds are likely to read reviews? With a bunch of blue animated figures who might be confused with Smurfs (returning this summer), the picture has enough entertainment value to tickle its target audience and even offers a few chuckles for accompanying adults. A strong cast and bright—if uninspired—animation help to offset a thin story. Decent box-office returns seem likely.

The film opens confusingly by demonstrating the heroic stature of Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) on his home planet of Baab. It takes a sloppy ten minutes for the main story to kick into gear. Scorch learns of a problem on the Dark Planet—that’s what Earth is called in the farther reaches of the galaxy—and bounds off to the rescue. What he doesn’t know is that he’s being manipulated by a troubled, power-mad general (amusingly played by William Shatner in what may be a homage to Sterling Hayden’s General Jack D. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove), who aims to capture aliens from assorted planets and use them for his own megalomaniacal purposes. Scorch’s nerdy brother Gary (Rob Corddry), who works at mission control on Baab, musters up his courage to tackle his first-ever dangerous adventure and travels to Earth to free Scorch.

From that point on, the plot is predictable and undernourished. There’s a complication in the form of a traitorous bigwig on Baab (Jessica Alba), who is having a very long-distance romance with the general, at least as long as he wears his Elvis toupee. The story lurches forward in fits and starts, but there are welcome bursts of humor along the way. A documentary shown to Scorch and Gary to illuminate the backward nature of life on Earth is a highlight, though the film should have tried to incorporate more of this puckish social satire. Ricky Gervais has some droll moments as the voice of the computer assisting the mission, though he’s underutilized. On Earth, Scorch and Gary encounter a bevy of other aliens, voiced by performers like Jane Lynch, Craig Robinson and George Lopez, with Steve Zahn and Chris Parnell providing additional comic relief as a couple of trailer-park stoners eager to help the aliens. Corddry and Fraser do well with their roles, though Sarah Jessica Parker and Sofia Vergara are wasted as their love interests back home.

Visually, the film offers modest if colorful pleasures. Canadian director Cal Brunker provides an amiable spirit for this caper. A couple of chase sequences take advantage of the 3D technology. What’s disappointing about so many of today’s animated movies is that even though they run 90 minutes or less, they usually seem padded. Toward the end of Escape, we are treated to sentimental reaffirmations of brotherly bonding that add very little to this adventure. Nevertheless, the creatures and the human villain provide the necessary spice.
The Hollywood Reporter



Film Review: Escape from Planet Earth

Passable animated entertainment is stronger on humor than adventure

Feb 15, 2013

-By Stephen Farber


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1371818-Escape_Earth_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

In a fallow period for kid-friendly entertainment, The Weinstein Company has shrewdly rushed in to fill the gap with Escape from Planet Earth. It was not screened in advance for critics, but then, how many eight-year-olds are likely to read reviews? With a bunch of blue animated figures who might be confused with Smurfs (returning this summer), the picture has enough entertainment value to tickle its target audience and even offers a few chuckles for accompanying adults. A strong cast and bright—if uninspired—animation help to offset a thin story. Decent box-office returns seem likely.

The film opens confusingly by demonstrating the heroic stature of Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) on his home planet of Baab. It takes a sloppy ten minutes for the main story to kick into gear. Scorch learns of a problem on the Dark Planet—that’s what Earth is called in the farther reaches of the galaxy—and bounds off to the rescue. What he doesn’t know is that he’s being manipulated by a troubled, power-mad general (amusingly played by William Shatner in what may be a homage to Sterling Hayden’s General Jack D. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove), who aims to capture aliens from assorted planets and use them for his own megalomaniacal purposes. Scorch’s nerdy brother Gary (Rob Corddry), who works at mission control on Baab, musters up his courage to tackle his first-ever dangerous adventure and travels to Earth to free Scorch.

From that point on, the plot is predictable and undernourished. There’s a complication in the form of a traitorous bigwig on Baab (Jessica Alba), who is having a very long-distance romance with the general, at least as long as he wears his Elvis toupee. The story lurches forward in fits and starts, but there are welcome bursts of humor along the way. A documentary shown to Scorch and Gary to illuminate the backward nature of life on Earth is a highlight, though the film should have tried to incorporate more of this puckish social satire. Ricky Gervais has some droll moments as the voice of the computer assisting the mission, though he’s underutilized. On Earth, Scorch and Gary encounter a bevy of other aliens, voiced by performers like Jane Lynch, Craig Robinson and George Lopez, with Steve Zahn and Chris Parnell providing additional comic relief as a couple of trailer-park stoners eager to help the aliens. Corddry and Fraser do well with their roles, though Sarah Jessica Parker and Sofia Vergara are wasted as their love interests back home.

Visually, the film offers modest if colorful pleasures. Canadian director Cal Brunker provides an amiable spirit for this caper. A couple of chase sequences take advantage of the 3D technology. What’s disappointing about so many of today’s animated movies is that even though they run 90 minutes or less, they usually seem padded. Toward the end of Escape, we are treated to sentimental reaffirmations of brotherly bonding that add very little to this adventure. Nevertheless, the creatures and the human villain provide the necessary spice.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Major Releases

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Film Review: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Latest rollicking entry in the sturdy series (installments one and two together hit a billion dollars in grosses) again has natural and historic wonders come alive at night to wreak havoc. But it’s largely kids’ stuff. More »

The Interview
Film Review: The Interview

If you’re curious, the movie that has North Korea so upset is genuinely amusing, if flawed in the length department. More »

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here