G-Force

G-Force

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Special agent Darwin is smart, resourceful, and pretty quick when he needs to be. His colleague Bucky is tough, loyal and courageous. Then there's Juarez, sleek and sexy but a skilled fighter. When their undercover operations reveal a sinister plan for mass extermination lurking behind a businessman's plan to connect household appliances by satellite, the stage is set for a race against time to save the world. But the odds against our heroes are even worse than usual because they've just been disowned by the FBI, they're being hunted by an agent who wants them silenced, and, um, they're guinea pigs.

Over the years, Disney has met with a lot of challenges in trying to keep up with its changing audience. Old fashioned talking animal movies about love and friendship are no longer enough, though one can still detect their influence here. For G-Force, they've teamed up with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and this delivers everything you'd expect from one of his films. It's big, it's flashy, it delivers on thrills, and it's almost completely character-free.

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Hidden behind our furry animated heroes is a voice cast to die for, and it's agonising to see them wasted like this. Sam Rockwell, so brilliant in Moon, works hard to bring personality to Darwin, but with a script composed almost entirely of cliches it's very difficult to do. Penelope Cruz brings her sizzling talents to Juarez, but the character remains hopelessly conflicted, at one point furious with a little girl who wants to dress her like Barbie, at another leaping into a special pink hamster ball and then needing to be rescued by the male characters. Female characters seem to be an afterthought throughout the film. Bill Nighy clearly enjoys playing the power-hungry businessman but he's little more than a pantomime prop. Only Zach Galifianakis, the comedy man of the moment, really makes an impression, and then it's less by what he does than by how subtly he inhabits his role, further demonstrating his remarkable range.

What really stands about about this film is its use of 3D effects, which are much more tightly integrated into the whole than is the case with most of its contemporaries. For the first few scenes this is breathtaking. Unfortunately its impact gradually diminishes, much like the impact of the Bruckheimer trademark, bigger and bigger explosions. It might have been more impressive if used more sparingly. Not every 3D scene works, though when we follow the fly who provides air support for our team, it's always exciting. Though it doesn't get much screentime, the fly is one of the most entertaining characters, and other minor characters work pretty well, like the self-serving hamster (whom we're told is recovering from life in the psych labs at UCLA) and the ditzy but delightful mice.

Again in keeping with the Bruckheimer standard, G-Force is heavily referential. Most of this blends in smoothly with the script, and there are some nicely choreographed action set pieces early on, but later on, as the action starts to fall apart under its own weight, the references become more awkward. The final giant robot creature is notable only for having an even worse metamorphosis sequence than the heroes of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.

All in all, this is among the more watchable films you could take your kids to in the summer holidays. There are a few laughs for all the family, and there's enough edge-of-the-seat stuff to enable one to overlook most of the film's flaws. All of the violence is skilfully presented to make it suitable for younger ones and you won't need to worry about tears at the end. It's likeable enough, just lacking in personality.

Reviewed on: 27 Jul 2009
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A team of special agent guinea pigs whose funding is cut by the FBI must go it alone to try and save the world from an evil genius.
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Director: Hoyt Yeatman

Writer: Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley

Starring: Bill Nighy, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Sam Rockwell, Jon Favreau, Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, Steve Buscemi, Dee Bradley Baker

Year: 2009

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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