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Escape from Planet Earth

2013 | 89 min | PG | 2.39:1

Escape from Planet Earth


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Theatrical release date

 15 February, 2013
 07 March, 2014

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (native)

Box office




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Screenshots from Escape from Planet Earth 3D Blu-ray

Escape from Planet Earth Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, February 15, 2013

As low impact CG-animated moviemaking goes, “Escape from Planet Earth” is surprisingly persistent when it comes to staging mind-numbing mediocrity. The potential for a rip-roaring alien adventure is there for the taking, but the production doesn’t bother, instead recycling beats of irreverence, action, and sentiment from other, better pictures. It’s a drag, but a needlessly stupid one, begging on bleeding knees for younger audiences to fall in love with it, which translates to emphatic voice work, extended slapstick routines, and a precocious child character meant to act as a surrogate for the nosepickers. And just to make sure the feature radiates complete nonsense, every time a character falls in “Escape from Planet Earth,” there’s a fart sound effect piped in. Surely your children would rather watch “Argo” instead, right?

On the planet Baab, Scorch Supernova (voiced by Brendan Fraser) is an inspiring hero to all, blessed with good looks, big muscles, and an insatiable appetite for bad ideas while adventuring, requiring assistance from his brilliant brother Gary (Rob Corddry). Eager to investigate trouble brewing on Earth, Scorch takes off to the unknown planet, soon captured by Area 51 agents, led by General Shanker (William Shatner), a devious military leader who puts space visitors to work inventing tech gadgets and social networks. Despite his persistent fears, Gary says goodbye to wife Kira (Sarah Jessica Parker) and troublemaker son Kip (Jonathan Morgan Heit), following Scorch to Earth, hoping to rescue his brother. Once arrived, Gary is captured, forced into labor with fellow aliens Doc (Craig Robinson), Thurman (George Lopez), and Lo (Jane Lynch), forcing him to come up with an escape plan as Shanker comes into possession of a powerful Baab energy source.

Reportedly, “Escape from Planet Earth” has been in production for the last six years, with various lawsuits launched during this time to help complicate behind-the-scenes turmoil. The finished film hardly seems worth the fight, resembling several other animated efforts in recent years, including the sublime “Monsters vs. Aliens” and the wretched “Planet 51.” However, knowing its age may help to digest a few of the moldy stabs at humor, including an extended Simon Cowell visual gag and an elaborate plug for 7-Eleven, where both Scorch and Gary first encounter their first taste of Earthly trouble (a current look at 7-Eleven’s website shows no mention of the feature, suggesting the tie-in deal was called off some time ago). And if a few creative gray hairs don’t bother you, perhaps a steady stream of bodily function humor is enough to muddy the viewing experience, watching the production sneak in cheap gags whenever there’s an opportunity. Why try to craft a perfect punchline when a character can simply break wind?

The story is pure formula, with the hero’s journey template employed to boost Gary’s arc from zero to hero, but there are plenty of supporting characters to distract from the obvious. It’s only a shame there’s not more imagination in the voice casting, finding Lopez a particular head-scratcher in this, his seventh cartoon job in the last five years. Perhaps there’s another sassy, pun-happy Latino actor who could use the work? Shatner is also a disappointment, providing a half-speed performance for a rigidly animated figure. Shanker is meant to intimidate, but Shatner barely has the wind to backup such villainous intentions. Jessica Alba also pops in as a Baab traitor, but she barely makes an impression, which pretty sums up the work of the ensemble, with a few famous names stopping by for cameos and utility work, including Steve Zahn, Bill Hader, and Ricky Gervais, who plays a snarky computer program named “Mr. James Bing.” I think this is some type of James Bond nudge, but like everything else in this effort, it’s too underdeveloped to matter.

Action keeps “Escape from Planet Earth” alert, offering rides on spaceships and rocket boots. There’s plenty of silly business as well, including a food fight and numerous displays of physical humor. What’s missing is a personality to match the passable budget animation, rendering the entire picture bland and inert, trying to skate by on the least amount of effort. It’s an alien tale that crosses the galaxy, with various opportunities for excitement and good fun. Instead of a colorful, carefree ride, the audience is handed a dud. A dud that can’t hold its gas.

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson
Director: Cal Brunker

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Escape From Planet Earth 11 Feb 15, 2013

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