G-Force (US - BD RA)
Gabe finds real guinea pigs eating carrots more entertaining than this...
For years the government has depended on animals for their espionage capabilities. Now super smart, highly trained guinea pigs join the ranks of carrier pigeons and mine-hunting dolphins. Armed with the latest in spy technology Darwin (Sam Rockwell), Juarez (Penelope Cruz), Blaster (Tracy Morgan), along with a mole named Speckles (Nicolas Cage) and a fly named Mooch (Dee Bradley Baker) are sent on their first mission—to uncover the truth behind electronics mogul Leonard Saber’s (Bill Nighy) latest corporate takeover. When they fail to secure the intel the ‘G-Force’ is shut down, and its mammalian members find themselves trapped in a common pet store. Now it seems there is no one to stop Saber’s nefarious plan.
G-Force is better than you’d think it would be, based on its asinine concept and those terrible trailers, but is still pretty clearly inspired by a child and his pet guinea pig, which is to say not very good. Director Hoyt Yeatman is an inarguably technically adept filmmaker, who clearly utilizes his award winning special effects background. His compositions are interesting and lively, and his sense of motion is occasionally quite impressive (probably even more so in 3D). The film is a modestly amusing spoof of producer Jerry Bruchiemer’s more ‘adult’ oriented films, especially if we’re free to assume Bruckheimer is poking a little fun at his ex protégé Michael Bay’s Transformers films (and for the record, G-Force is better than Transformers 2). The espionage and action elements feature enough well-orchestrated and original elements that it’s easy to imagine they were originally intended for human characters, rather than animated rodents. The amusing and even somewhat surprising last act twist is also an indication of some thought behind the production, at least more than most patented Disney talking animal flicks.
The spoof and satire elements shade some of the clichés (of which there are many), but perhaps more interesting is the fact that the script utilizes well-tread sequel movie tropes. The characters are super thin, and the third act crisis of motivation is wrapped up so quickly you’re liable to get whiplash. The dialogue and interactions are pale comparisons to the high concept stuff Pixar specializes in, and there are way too many boring fart jokes, but some of the physical gags work, and the actors generally sell their less funny lines. I also appreciate the writers for keeping the pop-culture referential comedy to a minimum, even if Tracy Morgan’s part skirts the bad taste Ebonics edge (and I can’t hate the line ‘Yippee Ki Yay, Coffee Maker’). Bruckheimer’s baffling pull with actors pays off again, especially in the voice cast, which features two Academy Award winners, an A-List director, a future Oscar nom (I’m calling it now for Rockwell, though for Moon, not G-Force), and Bruckheimer’s favourite stand-by, Steve Buscemi. The cast is largely wasted, of course, especially Penelope Cruz and Bill Nighy, but it’s almost worth it for Nic Cage’s well disguised performance (it took me a very long time to figure out which character he was playing. Fans of comedian Zach Galifianakis will recognize the patented faux-drama he uses in his stand-up act, which makes his low-key performance particularly amusing.
G-Force apparently features more 3D shots than any other film to this point (I have no idea what this means, and assume Avatar is going to break the record next week), and is Disney’s first 3D film with live action aspects. This means next to nothing in the case of this 2D Blu-ray release, but the 3D preparation clearly had some effect on the depth of field presented on this disc. The computer animation is highly detailed, wonderfully textured (you can almost feel the fur), and well animated, but the animated characters never quite blend with their surroundings. In hi-def the difference is, of course, increased. The transfer doesn’t fail on either account—the real photography is super sharp, and the animated bits are swimming in fine lines—the elements just don’t mix, especially not when human hands grab at them. The whole thing is shot to create yellow edge highlights, and deep black contrast elements, which are recreated in the CG animation. These elements are sharply cut in high definition. The yellow kind of saturates the entire film, with the exceptions of some cooler sequences, but never overtakes the films other bright colour elements, which are clean and poppy without bleeding.
It stars CG guinea pigs, and is aimed at the wee ones, but G-Force is a budget heavy Bruckheimer action flick at heart, and nowhere is this more apparent than in this DTS-HD 5.1 audio track. For your surround sound dollar I recommend the bug-level scenes, which include over-sized, hyper realistic aural elements, and more direction bits than the rest of the film. The car vs. hamster ball chase is another ace sample of surround work, including a bombastic rendition of ‘O Fortuna’, rumbling engines, zooming vehicles, and a crescendo of rocketing fireworks. The dialogue track is always well centred and clear over even the loudest action adventure moments. There is a slight issue with the animated voices being perhaps a little too consistent, and Rockwell’s voice in particular is a little loud, but clarity is never a problem. The musical score really sells the adult espionage elements, but also features a little too much bouncy dance pop for my taste. The more explosive action scenes feature plenty of LFE punch and throb on their own, but these dance tracks add a really aggressive pump to the bass.
The extras begin with a Cine-Explore option, which is pretty much the alpha and omega of the set’s extras. This isn’t a pop-up option, but an alternate film track, with its own video mode, featuring pop-up elements, but no interactive elements. Director Hoyt Yeatman acts as commentator during the ‘in-film’ features, which are reasonably scene specific, including before and after animation, storyboards, concept art, and the funniest bits – live action reference with stuffed guinea pigs. The track occasionally features Morgan and Rockwell in character making silly comments for the kiddies, but in practice this is a surprisingly informative and technically minded special feature, if not a little too visually busy. The cut-away video bits, which can be turned off at the menu level, but not accessed any other way, include closer looks at technical elements, mostly at the pre and post-production level. Not many stones are left unturned.
The other extras are pretty much just decoration. ‘Blaster’s Boot Camp’ (04:40, HD) is pretty much an ad for the film, covering the ‘requirements’ of a G-Force candidate, and the tools of the trade. ‘G-Force Master Mind’ (04:10, HD) is a sort of cute look at the film’s inspiration—director Yeatman’s son Hoyt, who came up with the concept when he was five. ‘Bruckheimer Animated’ (03:10, HD) is a fluffy retrospective look at the producer’s history with CG animation. ‘Access Granted: Inside the Animation Lab’ (07:50, HD) is a broad look at the film’s animation process, from conception to finished product. Things are wrapped up with a blooper reel (01:50, HD), six deleted scenes (06:20, HD), three music videos (08:30, HD, 5.1 Sound), and trailers.
G-Force is an unsurprisingly stupid movie, but it’s not painful to watch by any means, and little kids will probably eat it up. Grownups can look forward to a few genuinely funny gags and a silly turn from Nic Cage. The disc looks and sounds just as impressive as any adult aimed Jerry Bruckheimer action flick (though it isn’t presented in 3D like it was in films), and the extras include a shockingly informative Cine-Explore option.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may not be suitable for children
Release Date: 15th December 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish and French
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Cine-Explore with Branching Featurettes and Commentary, Blaster's Boot Camp, G-Force Master Mind, Bruckheimer Animated, Access Granted: Inside the Animation Lab, Bloopers, Music Videos, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Hoyt H. Yeatman Jr.
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Penelope Cruz, Steve Buscemi, Nicolas Cage, Jon Favreau, Bill Nighy, Michael Papajohn
Genre: Action, Adventure and Animation
Length: 88 minutes
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