G for gag-worthy ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

G for gag-worthy

My rating:

(I don't know why I still do the "Next Review" thing. It's getting harder to plan my movie-watching schedule. Rest assured, I will watch and review Tsunami at Haeundae eventually.)

Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott are screenwriting partners who have worked on some of the most successful big-budget Hollywood blockbusters of the past 15 years, including Disney's Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Shrek, and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. They also run the Wordplayer website, a compendium of screenwriting advice articles and a lively forum frequented by both aspiring and pro Hollywood screenwriters (and which my ISP can no longer access, drat). So when I heard that they were involved in this movie, it was all I needed to make me want to watch it - despite my misgivings.

Should've listened to my misgivings.

The G-Force are a team of super-intelligent tiny animal spies, comprising guinea pigs Darwin (Sam Rockwell), Juarez (Penelope Cruz), Blaster (Tracy Morgan), a mole named Speckles (Nicolas Cage) and a fly called Mooch. When nasty FBI agent Killian (Will Arnett) threatens to shut down their program, their handler Ben (Zach Galifianakis), plus another guinea pig they pick up along the way named Hurley (Jon Favreau), must help them complete their first mission - to uncover and foil the nefarious plans of Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy), evil household appliances magnate.

Some movies just aren't worth writing plot synopses for. There are talking guinea pigs, and they're like, secret agents, okay? There's also a talking hamster, a talking mole, some talking mice, a fly (who fortunately doesn't talk) and some cockroaches (who unfortunately dance). And just as there are audiences who see cute talking rodents performing action hero antics and go "uaaahh, must watch must watch", there's also a sizable segment who are like "gaaahh, stay away stay away". And then there's the tiny percentage, comprised mostly of myself, who think "yes, it's an incredibly stupid idea and shamelessly calculated to appeal to the kiddies, but hey, it all depends on the execution, y'know?"

The execution sucks. The jokes aren't funny. The characterization is non-existent. The emotional themes are lame. Only the action scenes are somewhat competent, and the plot moves fast enough to keep you just above the threshold of boredom. I can't imagine why anyone looking for family-oriented entertainment would go for this when Up is still playing in cinemas. The Pixar film has cute, has thrills, has laughs, has heartwarming, and makes it all work. Ted and Terry, I am disappointed in the both of you.

Incidentally, G-Force might've worked better as an animated film rather than a live-action one. The world in which it is set is an utterly preposterous one, in which all animals - not just our "genetically-engineered" superspy heroes - are sentient and intelligent, and merely need some gadget to be able to communicate with humans. Put that in a cartoon, and we can buy it. Put it in a live-action world, and it just becomes silly. Babe pulled it off, but it takes just the right touch of whimsy and fantasy - something that has eluded every other cute-talking-animal movie since.

I feel sorry for the cast. The actors who voice the rodents are given some truly painful dialogue. Rockwell and Cruz are bland, and only Morgan seems to deliver his lines with relish. Favreau plays yet another goofy sidekick. There's a hamster character played by Steve Buscemi, whose voice is instantly recognizable; however, Nicolas Cage's isn't. I had no idea he voiced Speckles the mole till the end credits, which may make this one of his better performances in recent years. Galifianakis seems downright embarrassed to be in this movie, Arnett glowers a lot, and Nighy seemed ready to do a good fun scenery-chewing over-the-top villain role - but strangely enough, the film doesn't give him much opportunities.

And now I gotta mention the 3D. Yes, this is my first 3D film, and I find myself spectacularly unimpressed. The picture was blurry and out-of-focus, and the colours were dimmed and murky; I can't imagine watching a film as bright and colourful as Up like this. The 3D effect itself wasn't much to shout about; it's only effective when things are flying towards the screen, so all it can do is throw things at the screen. The glasses sat rather precariously over my own spectacles; it wasn't entirely uncomfortable, but I was still glad that it was a pretty short movie. All this for almost twice the price of a normal ticket? Feh.

I am loath to say only kids will enjoy this movie, because I think that's an insult to kids. They may like the cute guinea pigs and they may enjoy the action scenes, but I can't imagine they'll find the dialogue-based jokes any funnier than I did. And I'm pretty certain they'll get bored by Darwin's disillusionment over his bogus genetic superiority, or by Hurley's need for love and acceptance. As for the adults... well, the final scene is of all the CGI animals boogieing to the musical stylings of Flo Rida. If you've passed puberty and didn't find that scene embarrassingly bad, you'd have to have the mind of an infant - and maybe that's who G-Force is really aimed at.

NEXT REVIEW: Momok The Movie
Anticipation level: yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil


Ken Wooi said...

havent watched it..
but gonna catch it soon! =D