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G-Force (2009)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainemnt
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/15/2009

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/15/2009

OK all you Battle of the Planets/Gatchaman fans, are you in the same place that I am? Following the release of TMNT in 2007, it was announced that the same team would be making a CG Battle of the Planets film. I don't know about you, but I was incredibly excited about this. After that, I would see occasional headlines on entertainment websites about G-Force going into production, or actors hired to do voices for G-Force. Well, I guess that I should have read past the headlines, for those articles weren't talking about a Battle of the Planets movie (which still may happen), but instead they were discussing a film about talking guinea pigs. Really? OK, let's take a look at this other G-Force movie.

G-Force introduces us to Ben (Zach Galifianakis), a scientist who has devoted his life to working with animals. He has trained a group of small mammals to be spies/commandos. There are three guinea pigs -- Darwin (voiced by Sam Rockwell), the group's leader; Juarez (voiced by Penelope Cruz), a sassy female spy; Blaster (voiced by Tracy Morgan), a loud-mouthed show-off -- and a mole -- Speckles (voiced by Nicolas Cage), a computer expert. The group also has a fly named Mooch, who provides aerial reconnaissance. Along with training the animals, Ben has invented a device which allows him to converse with them. Ben has been having trouble getting any additional funding or respect from the FBI, so he sends his team in to steal computer files from Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy), an industrialist who is suspected of being involved in a plot involving satellites. The mission appears to be a success, but when it comes time to show Agent Killian (Will Arnett) the data, it's not there. So, Killian orders the project to be shut down and the animals taken in. The animals flee and soon finds themselves in a pet store. Soon they are separated. Knowing that he not only has to clear Ben's name, but also stop Saber, Darwin is determined to reunite with his friends and have G-Force save the day.

When I first saw the trailers for G-Force (again, devastated that I wasn't seeing Mark, Jason, and the Phoenix), I felt that I had a pretty good idea of what the movie was. And how having seen it, I can tell you that I was pretty spot on. The movie was actually a little better than I would have ever imagined, but it's still simply an action movie for children featuring talking animals.

I'm not afraid to give kudos where they are deserved and I must congratulate G-Force on not being an origin story. The film opens with the team going on their mission against Saber. There's no set up or long drawn-out explanations. The guinea pigs can talk and they have little submersibles and grappling-hook guns. Go! This gives us an indication of the film's pacing, which is rarely slack.

However, the movie is simply too shallow for its own good. Perhaps it could have used more of a backstory or character development or something. As it is, the movie is unapologetically one-dimensional (despite the fact that it was shown in 3-D in theaters). The animals walk upright. They talk. They are sassy and there's some mild bodily-function humor. And that's about it. The plot is wafer thin, and only crops up when necessary. The film exists simply as an excuse to show the CG animals in action scenes. There is a plot twist at the end which may surprise some younger viewers, but much of the audience won't care by this point.

This may sound a bit nitpicky, but there was one aspect of the movie which I especially didn't like. The last act strays too far into Transformers territory. Was this necessary? I've already suffered through seeing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, did I have to see something which reminded me of that movie? Or is this a consolation prize for kids whose parents are smart enough to not let them watch the Transformers movies?

So, is G-Force simply good Disney fun? I don't know about that last word. I'm just a big kid at heart, and I usually find something to like or laugh at in movie's like this, but G-Force is particularly joyless. It's not funny or captivating in any way. As usual, I'll turn to my kids for the final verdict. While watching G-Force, my wife began making peppermint bark (a holiday tradition) and needed help opening the peppermints. My kids walked away from G-Force to unwrap candy. Let me say that again for the cheap seats: they left the talking guinea pig movie to do manual labor. I think that my work here is done. Now, where's the peppermint bark?

G-Force requires cedar shavings on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 23 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The film's CG effects are good and this HD transfer doesn't make them look flawed. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good and we can make out the work put into creating the animal's fur. The depth is good as well. The Disc holds a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done and are highly detailed, giving a sense of space. The surround sound effects really come to life during the action scenes. These same scenes provide some mild subwoofer effects, but as with many family films, they are toned down.

The G-Force Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. "Cine-Explore" allows the viewer to watch the film with Darwin, Blaster, and Director Hoyt Yeatman, who provide an audio commentary. With this version, the film itself is often in the background, as video files, and concept art fill the screen. The piece will also stop from time-to-time to bring us behind-the-scenes video. "Blaster's Boot Camp" (4 minutes) is an odd featurette, as Blaster talks about the skills necessary to be in G-Force, and elaborates on some of the gadgets, but this is simply a montage of scenes from the film. "G-Force Mastermind" (4 minutes) has Hoyt Yeatman IV, the Director's son, discusses the imaginative ideas which he had about guinea pigs, some of which were used as the basis of the film. "Bruckheimer Animated" (3 minutes) examines how the producer's films always contain cutting-edge visual effects. "Access Granted: Inside the Animation Lab" (7 minutes) takes us on a tour of the animation studios and explores how the CG characters were put into the film. "G-Farce: Bloopers" is a 1-minute gag reel. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes. The extras are rounded out by MUSIC VIDEOS for the songs "Jump" by Flo Rida featuring Nelly Furtado, "Ready to Rock" by Steve Rushton, and "Go G-Force".

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long