Friday, January 27, 2012

G-Force 3D / 2D Blu-ray Review

Buckle up for thrilling edge-of-your-seat action and laugh-out-loud fun in Disney’s G-Force as this elite team of highly trained guinea pigs leaps off the screen and right into your living room.  Just as the G-Force is about to save the world, the F.B.I. shuts the secret unit down.  But these next-generation action heroes won’t be stopped. Armed with the latest high-tech spy equipment, and with the F.B.I. on their tails, the fur flies as they race against the clock to save the world. From the producer of Pirates Of The Caribbean and National Treasure, G-Force is fantastic 3D fun for the whole family.

Film (3 out of 5 stars)

The film opens during an unauthorized infiltration of  Leonard Saber’s (Bill Nighy) house whose company Saberline Technology has been under surveillance for a long time by the FBI.  However the infiltration unit isn’t made up of humans but instead it’s group of specially trained animals.  The group is led by a guinea pig named Darwin (Sam Rockwell) and the rest of the team includes Juarez (Penelope Cruz), Blaster (Tracy Morgan), Speckles (Nicolas Cage),  and a fly named Mooch (Dee Bradley Baker).  Their FBI leader is a man named Ben (Zach Galifinakis) who trained them and invented the technology that allows them to communicate with humans.  Ben ordered the unauthorized mission in the hope that if they are successful, it will prove his team’s worth to the FBI.
Darwin and his team manage to to download information that something bad is going to happen soon but when Ben’s boss Kip Killian (Will Arnett) arrives the only information that Speckles has to show him appears to be useless information about Saber’s coffee makers.  Killian who was already mad about the unauthorized operation, disbands G-Force when he believes that they completely failed.  Killian orders his men to gather all of the equipment and to capture all of the animals so they can be killed.  The animals manage to escape the FBI agents but end up being accidentally sent to a pet store where they are added to the rest of the animals there to be sold.
Now trapped in a display case with a psychotic hamster (who may be part ferret) played with mad glee by Steve Buscemi, the G-Force team start plotting their escape.  Speckles attempts to play dead to make an escape but his plan backfires when he’s dumped in the trash instead of getting buried like he planned.  He’s apparently crushed in a garbage truck which demoralized the rest of the team.  Juarez and Blaster are taken home as pets by a family while the others meet a guinea pig named Hurley (Jon Favreau) who believes he’s related to Darwin.  After discovering a hidden trap door under Bucky’s house, the team escapes before Ben arrives to save them along with Mooch who told him where the team was.
While Juarez and Blaster make their escape from their adoptive family, Darwin and Hurley make their way back to Ben until Darwin notices a Saber made coffee maker and decides to take a closer look at it.  When he tries to take the Saber made computer chip out of it, the coffee machine comes alive and tries to eliminate both of them.  All over the world, the Saber built appliances come to life to take over from mankind.  After a madcap escape from some FBI agents, Ben and the G-Force realize that they are the only ones able to stop what’s going on by infiltrating Saber’s mansion again to plant a computer virus in the mainframe to stop the machines.
This movie is exactly what you would imagine a Disney film that’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer to be.  It’s a cute kids movie with excellent production value and some great special effects.  This is a fantastic cast for this kind of a movie and their addition enhances the movie.  The plot is pretty thin and a lot of the dialogue is groan-worthy, but kids will enjoy it and there’s enough directed at parents to keep them interested.  The animals all look realistic and my son really liked seeing all of them in action so the movie works on its target audience.  This is a movie that the family can enjoy together.

Video (4 out of 5 stars)

3D Video (4 out of 5 stars)

This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks great and the 3D version offers some extra fun despite not being up to the recent standard of the latest Disney releases.  Some of the 3D shots look incredible, especially the ones that take place in well lit or daylight scenes, but there’s also some other shots that don’t turn out as well.  The infiltration scenes and their escape from the FBI agents look especially good in 3D compared to the 2D edition.  There’s some minor ghosting in a few scenes but it’s not pervasive or too bothersome.  Both versions offer a multitude of brilliant colors along with a sharply detailed picture.  Black levels are deep and dark as they should be, while the flesh tones tend to be on the warm side but overall both versions offer a nicely detailed picture.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

G-Force’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is also pretty good but again, it’s not up to Disney’s recent standards.  I’m not sure if they deliberately toned this mix down for children but I doubt it, since the other recent releases I’ve reviewed have pretty much all had excellent mixes.  The dialogue is clear and well delivered by the front channels, while the rear channels have some activity but not as much as other Disney releases.  There is some nice directional effects and it all sounds clear but it seems to be lacking the power I’ve grown accustomed to from Disney releases.  The mix does improve towards the finale with a giant robot stomping around which is always good.  This lossless mix from another studio would be pretty impressive but Disney’s stellar efforts of late have raised expectations to another level.

Special Features (3 out of 5 stars)

This section is the most disappointing thing about this set since there really isn’t much provided as far as extras go.  At least they are all in high definition.
  • Cine-Explore Mode - Director Hoyt Yeatman covers the movie with a Picture-in-Picture mode that offers his thoughts along with animatics, a look at the CGI in the movie, behind the scenes footage, and more.  There’s some interesting information included but it’s a little annoying that all of this footage isn’t just available to watch on its own without having to watch this mode to see it.
  • Inside the Animation Lab – Hoyt Yeatman and Jerry Bruckheimer join forces to discuss the animation done for the movie, with Bruckheimer introducing the concepts and Yeatman providing the tour of Imageworks’ animation department.
  • Deleted Scenes – Six extra bits that don’t really add anything to the movie and can be skipped.
  • Blaster’s Boot Camp – A somewhat annoying extra that has Blaster covering the qualities that are need to become a a member of G-Force.  This is basically a clip fest from the movie and completely pointless.
  • G-Force Mastermind – If you thought the whole concept of the movie was childish, you may not be surprised that the creator of the movie is director Hoyt Yateman’s son Hoyt Yeatman IV.  Maybe I’m a little bitter that a five year old kid got his movie made thanks to his connections, but at the same time I’d like to think that his involvement explains a lot about the movie.
  • Bruckheimer Animated – A three minute sizzle reel of Bruckheimer’s past movies that focuses on the special effects from them.  As a fan of his movies, I was happy enough to bask in the glow of his explosions but this may not be for everyone.
  • G-Farce – A two minute look at the outtakes from the movie which are amusing but brief.
  • Music Videos – Three music videos which include Flo Rida’s “Jump,” Steve Rushton’s “Ready to Rock,” and the guinea pigs’ “Go G-Force” song.  My advice is to skip all of them.

Final Thoughts (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

This movie proves the power of Jerry Bruckheimer’s rolodex and it’s one that children will enjoy especially since they aren’t used to getting Bruckheimer level production values.  The movie’s great cast makes this a far more enjoyable experience than it should be and it’s one that the whole family can enjoy.
Order your copy today!

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