Title: Escape from Planet Earth
Director: Cal Brunker
Starring (voice cast): Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Ricky Gervais, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Sofia Vergara, William Shatner, George Lopez, Craig Robinson, Jane Lynch, Steve Zahn, Chris Parnell
Escape from Planet Earth has just enough vibrant action to please the kiddies…but this 3D animation is really micro-crafted for adults.
Released by The Weinstein Company, and produced by a team of relative unknowns (a.k.a. not animated household names Pixar and/or DreamWorks), this passionate and sharp adventure, with a touch of heart, is firing on all cylinders despite the familiarity of the story arc.
Gary Supernova (voiced by Rob Corddry) is the genius that operates advanced mission control on planet Baab. He works in-concert with his brother Scorch (voiced by Brendan Fraser), who is the brawn out in the field that compliments Gary’s analytic brainpower. Thing is, Scorch receives all the praise and is essentially viewed as a rock star on the planet of blue people, which kind of look like a fishy version Shrek on a strict diet. Scorch also has a bit of an ego, something that constantly bugs his worrisome brother. And when that inflated-head of Scorch gets him into trouble on his latest mission to the “Dark Planet (Earth),” – which his bro did not support him on – Gary must zip through space and come to his aid.
What makes the recycled story invigorating is the cleverness that is constantly on display, hence the term micro-crafted used in the opening sentence. The filmmakers made sure just about every scene had some sort of hook to it. And the majority of the time, that hook was a humorous lick (ex. Ricky Gervais acting as the blunt voice of the smart computer system).
As the setting shifts to planet Earth, specifically the mysterious Area 51 confines, the articulation of Earth’s intelligent life/society is a perfect backboard for the assortment of alien life-forms (voiced charismatically by Craig Robinson, Jane Lynch, and George Lopez) to play off and/or mock. Add in William Shatner voicing the jaded anti-alien general who runs the famed desert complex, and the dialogue becomes just as entertaining as the decent visuals. By the way, you don’t need to watch this in 3D…2D will suffice (I’ll always save you money Earthlings).
Besides the fundamental story, the only real knock on this is that the younger audiences may not be fully engaged as to what is occurring when it’s just conversations on the screen. The humor/sarcasm is definitely geared toward older crowds, and that may ironically alienate the little guys.
Overall, Escape from Planet Earth is a thoroughly funny animation that painted a cool landscape to explore. It’s not flashy by any means, physically speaking, but it makes up for that with thoughtful/edgy humor in its DNA. The poking fun nature at human beings flows through nicely as a subtle social commentary, and the animation along with the unique looking characters are strong enough to engage the youngsters.
Acting (voice): A