Friday, February 15, 2013

Escape to “Escape from Planet Earth”

Movie Review by Maggie Hames
At its essence, Escape from Planet Earth is a sibling rivalry story. The sibling rivalry just happens to take place on the Blue Planet between alien (though not unfamiliar) brothers. Brainy (read: nerdy) Gary Supernova—voiced by Rob Corddry—works at mission control at BASA (a souped-up NASA) while his brother Scorch—voiced by Brendan Fraser—is the scene-stealing, macho, slightly dim but intrepid hero/astronaut. In the opening scene, we see Scorch grab the glory as he rescues babies trapped on an inhospitable planet but its Gary who guides the ship safely home by remote control.

Nobody can believe that Kira (right),
voiced by Sarah Jessica Parker, went
for Gary. That's their son, Kip (voiced by
Jonathan Morgan Heit) at left.
Scorch grabs the headlines, even refers to Gary as his “little” brother, even though Gary is older. We get it. Gary doesn’t get a ton of respect in any quarter except from his loving wife Kira (Sarah Jessica Parker) and son Kip (Jonathan Morgan Heit). There’s a running joke as people continually express their disbelief that Gary could attract someone as beautiful as Kira. She’s an interesting character: Kira used to manage things over as BASA but she quit her job to be a full-time parent. New manager Lena (Jessica Alba) doesn’t hold back with little jibes at Kira.

The story begins in earnest with a distress signal from the “dark planet.” That’s the place where 106 aliens have disappeared trying to establish friendly first contact with humans. We know it as Earth. Scorch lands in southern Nevada near the infamous Area 51 and it bears mentioning that this film is chock full of knowing little details. It’s a treat for die-hard 3D, sci-fi and fantasy film fans. I found myself immediately wanting to watch the film again to savor all the fun details, such as the use of a paddle-ball toy, just like the one used in the early 3D horror film, House of Wax.

William Shatner provides the voice of General Shanker.
Needless to say, Scorch is almost immediately captured and locked up by evil U.S. Army General Shanker (voiced by none other than William Shatner) who’s been enslaving aliens for years on the thin promise that they can eventually earn their way free by sharing their technology. Shanker takes the credit and the profit for these “inventions,” naturally. And the alien prisoners have been very productive. Sorry, Al Gore, but THEY invented the Internet, the touch screen, social networking, and all the other high-tech ideas humans could never have thought up.

Gary decides to rescue his brother and he’s immediately captured, too. But Shanker finds out that Gary has brains. Gary’s recruited to work on the aliens’ latest invention, the one that promises to win all of them all their freedom: a dooms-day device. Gary teams up with a trio of aliens voiced by Steve Zahn, Jane Lynch, and George Lopez to win their freedom without giving Shanker the power to destroy the universe.

Aliens voiced by (left to right) Jane Lynch,
George Lopez, Rob Corddry, Brendan
Fraser and 
Steve Zahn
This isn’t so much a brains over brawn story as it is a teamwork story. We all have our role to play; and when you think about it, nobody really has to be the “big” brother, do they? This is a wonderful family film with something for everyone. It’s rated PG for “some mild rude humor,” but there’s nothing here that will frighten even your youngest kids. And the 3D is stunning. The alien environments are beautifully realized in bright, fun colors that extend deep into space. It’s a visual feast. And it’s got a sweet message of brotherly (and family; and friend) loyalty and love. This is a great “Escape.” And love that Shatner!

No comments:

Post a Comment