Escape From Planet Earth (2D) (US - BD RA)
Jonathan watched one of those many animated films with silly aliens in it...
Sibling rivals from the Planet BAAB, brainiac Gary Supernova (Rob Corddry) works all the gizmos at Mission Control, while his studly brother Scorch (Brendan Fraser) performs all of the superhero stuff. But when Scorch is sent on an SOS operation to the Dark Planet (otherwise known as Earth), from which no alien has ever returned -- it's up to Gary to rescue him, their planet and the universe. (From the Anchor Bay synopsis)
Putting a spin on UFO invasion tales is nothing new in Hollywood, but in recent years it seems that animation studios have been milking the concept for all its worth. With movies like Mars Needs Moms, Monsters vs Aliens, and especially Planet 51 already in existence, its no surprise that the movie completely slipped under my radar. Now that I know it exists, I feel like I've seen Escape From Planet Earth before I even open the packaging. It also doesn't help that the Voldemort-looking, noseless blue aliens in the movie aren't far off from the alien design in Planet 51. It even borrows some ideas from the recent Paul.
Though everything about Escape From Planet Earth feels far from refreshing, this is a movie that I could totally see kids loving. There is plenty of silliness. The voice acting is appropriately over the top to match the material. Brendan Fraser is very enjoyable as Scorch. Scorch is the jock-like brother who is really good at going on missions and fighting creatures. Rob Corddry's Gary is the nerdy brother that is the brains of every option. The movie promotes a family friendly message of cooperation and the values of working together. Every member of the family gets their moment to shine. The whole story is pretty corny and safe, but if you're looking for an animated film that champions good family values then here is a viable option.
As we've come to expect from non-catalogue releases of animated films, this Blu-ray visual presentation is top notch. The colorful spaceships and their detailed interiors looks absolutely crisp and every color is as eye-catching as I've seen in this medium. Detail on character models is especially impressive. Though the lead alien race is smooth in appearance and lacking in any strong textures, the assorted aliens that are found in the compound on Earth have an impressive array of details to them. Visuals are more interesting in the earlier parts of the movie when we see the alien ships and some alien worlds. When the action finds itself on Earth the environments are expectedly more mundane and not quite as pleasing to the eye. The final action showdown features a polished looking chase through canyons during sunset that is very appealing though. It's clear that a studio put some money into this film's visuals and its not just a straight-to-video level cash in.
The impressive visuals are accompanied by a lively DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The soundtrack, which unfortunately features Owl City and Cody Simpsons, opens up the entire front of the sound space nicely. Dialogue and on screen action is loud and crisp from the front and center as it should be, but the extra channels get plenty of activity throughout the movies many lively scenes. You'll notice it right away in the opening sequence where Scorch is being chased by a race of mean aliens while he tries to save a group of babies. There are some real impressive directional effects as well. You'll hear ships whizzing by in the final chase. Even a little food fight skirmish makes great use of the surround. The storytelling is lazy but there was plenty of care put into this mix and the DTS-HD track on board this release does it justice.
The first feature on this disc is a Commentary with Director Cal Brunker. I went to a few key scenes in the movie with this track on and Brunker seems to spend most of it talking with hardly any dead air. It's more informative than entertaining, but Brunker gives some insight into what its like to direct an animated movie and the processes behind it; something I've always been curious about. The Making of Escape From Planet Earth (HD, 21:15) plays like an extended promotion for the film. Each of the main voice actors talks about their characters and then we are shown footage from the movie of the characters. George Lopez talks about how Thurman is a great character to give a unique voice to, then we see footage of George Lopez doing the same voice that George Lopez does for everything. The last few minutes take a look at the composer and the musical choices for the film. Then there's Alternate Takes & Deleted Scenes (HD, 03:53). Most of these are just brief goofy add-ons to scenes that stayed in the final film. Kids may find a few extra laughs here.
Next up is How to Make an Animated Film with Director Cal Brunker (HD, 03:43). This brief featurette shows Cal Brunker demonstrating how storyboards, pre-viz, and animatics work to create the final look of the film. Then you get to see an early sequence from the film with all four of them on screen at the same time. Its a neat little feature that I'd like to see on more animated films. Lastly there are Music Featurettes, which includes a music video of "Shooting Star" by Owl City, "What Matters Most" by Delta Rae, and featurette with interviews for "Shine Supernova" by Cody Simpson. If you can stand this kind of music, all power to you.
It may be generic, and it may feel like an unnecessary addition to the many recent animated films about aliens, but Escape From Planet Earth still manages to be a perfectly functional adventure movie that young kids will enjoy. I can't say it's fun for the whole family though, as I imagine parents and older teens would find it to be an endurance test. This Blu-ray from Anchor Bay has top notch video and audio, and a decent smattering of extras.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Jonathan Hogberg
Some material may not be suitable for children
Release Date: 4th June 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Commentary with Director Cal Brunker, The Making of Escape From Planet Earth, Alternate Takes and Deleted Scenes, How to Make an Animated Feature with Director Cal Brunker, Music Featurettes with Delta Rae, Owl City and Cody Simpson
Easter Egg: No
Director: Cal Brunker
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, Jessica Alba
Genre: Adventure, Animation and Comedy
Length: 89 minutes
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