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Escape from Planet Earth 3D(2013)
Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet.
For more about Escape from Planet Earth 3D and the Escape from Planet Earth 3D Blu-ray release, see Escape from Planet Earth 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 28, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Cal Brunker
Writers: Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson
» See full cast & crew
Escape from Planet Earth 3D Blu-ray Review
Good clean family escapist fun.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 28, 2013
Digitally animated movies have descended from the heights enjoyed in the days of Toy Story, not necessarily losing their appeal but certainly traversing down from the summit of novelty and richness, past the plateau of charm and general appeal, and into a gray area where plots aren't so important anymore, where cutting edge animation doesn't really wow adult audiences, where the market is so flooded with knockoffs, wannabes, and yes, still the occasional mega blockbuster that films like Escape from Planet Earth seem to become lost in the shuffle, seemingly just another film that hopes to appeal to younger audiences who are still more concerned with bright colors, fast movement, and cheery and silly dialogue, caring not what the studio label at the beginning of the film says or even if the plot shares similarities to other like-styled pictures. While Escape doesn't enjoy the story richness of a Pixar film or the advertising muscle of DreamWorks, it's certainly several steps above the digitally animated equivalent of shovel ware that's starting to emerge (Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, Adventures in Zambezia). While it won't be mistaken for the next great leap forward in entertainment, Escape from Planet Earth delivers an undeniably slick surface, and even if there's not a lot of depth past the animation, it's scripted and voiced just well enough to emerge as a sleeper surprise that should satisfy younger audiences and hold an adult's attention, too.
Scorch Supernova (voiced by Brendan Fraser) is his world's most renowned celebrity. He's an adventurer and superhero of sorts, loved by all and with the cocky attitude to show for it. He's just returned home to planet Baab after successfully pulling off a perilous baby rescue mission, and once again he's in the media spotlight. He certainly received all the strength and charisma in the family, but his brother Gary (voiced by Rob Corddry) most definitely got all the brains. He's the smarts behind Scorch's missions, a real brainiac who, unlike his brother, has settled down into a quiet little out-of-the-way life with the perfect wife and child. When Scorch is called to visit "The Dark Planet" -- i.e. Earth -- and respond to an S.O.S., his entire world jumps behind him, even though all who have ever dared visit Earth have never returned home. Scorch's arrival and the beginning of his mission are broadcast on television back on his home world, but disaster strikes in from of millions of fans when he's captured by ruthless human military agents. Now, it's up to Gary to mount a one-man rescue operation to save his brother. Little does he know he's about to unravel a super-secret interplanetary scheme that could shift the balance of power for centuries to come.
Escape from Planet Earth certainly won't win the ribbon for top achievement in originality -- the characters look like a cross between those from Megamind and Planet 51, and please forgive the movie if it feels as if it liberally borrows plot elements from movies like Monsters vs. Aliens -- but in fairness it takes all of its spare parts and crafts them into a dependable little excursion into animated escapism that touches all the usual notes on its way towards the expected happily-ever-after resolution. Even as all of the plot strings are neatly tied up as the film moves on to its conclusion, it exudes a real sense of excitement and heart, the former enough to please the younger ones and the latter sure to satisfy jaded older ones. One or two major plot twists come somewhat surprisingly, but otherwise best to expect the expectable because the film delivers pretty much what audiences, yes, expect from a movie like this. There are no chances taken with the story, no ground broken with the animation. It's all done neatly and efficiently and to good enough end result. For a movie that very well could have been a chore, it's instead a surprisingly fun little diversion that certainly won't ascend to the top of all that many fan's favorites lists but instead does all that's expected of it surprisingly well, even considering the overall absence of novelty.
So, in other words, it's really quite generic, but the peripherals around the main storyline elevate the movie several notches above where it probably should be. The picture nicely blends light humor with over-the-top gags, the former often working better -- and more regularly -- than the latter. The youngest audiences probably won't get many of the worldly, adult-centric jokes, but they're woven so well into the movie's fabric that they never seem to stand apart from the rest or wrenched in just to earn a laugh from the grown-ups. The characters aren't particularly interesting -- the bad guy general feels fully cliché and the juxtaposition of adventurer-versus-brain brothers works well enough in context but doesn't really set the characters apart beyond the basics. Scorch seems modeled rather heavily after Skylanders' Flynn (even throwing in a few "BOOMS!"), a self-assured, big voiced hero who's not really worthy of the pedestal on which he places himself and usually needs a lot of outside help to get things done, though he either never recognizes the fact or refuses to believe it. Gary is terribly flat and generic, yet the film manages to build a rather nice, albeit predictable, family ties angle between the two, culminating in a surprisingly heartfelt moment between the siblings near film's end. The voice actors are quite good, particularly Ricky Gervais as a sarcastic computer. Best of all, the animation is really quite lively. It builds a beautifully slick and smooth alien world that's not at all, well, alien to human viewers but that looks throughly convincing and very smartly conceived in a fifties-meets-future kind of way.
Escape from Planet Earth 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Escape from Planet Earth ships with both its 2D and 3D version on separate discs in the same box; at this time there are no individual releases, so those wanting only 2D will be stuck buying a 3D copy along with it. The good news is that the movie looks fantastic. The 2D image yields an unbelievably bright color palette. It's vibrant and satisfying in every shot, very even and well defined, no matter the place, time, lighting, or any other factors. From the most brilliant shades of blue and red to the most subtle, underscored earthen tones seen in the desert exteriors, the film's colors dazzle from start to finish. Details are just as impressive. The image is texturally refined, handling all extremes -- the very smooth glossy Baab surfaces and several heavily textured uniforms both -- with no issues at all. The finest little alien skin details, the graphics on displays and little touches on advanced machinery, even tiny pebbles and the sand seen in the desert exteriors look amazing. Image clarity is second-to-none and there's a nice sense of space and depth even in the 2D version. Black levels are stunning throughout, and there are no signs of any banding, blocky backgrounds, or other unattractive eyesores. In short, this is an animated 2D image to dream about.
The included 3D transfer is itself no slouch. Anchor Bay's extra-dimensional presentation generally yields very good results, though to be sure there's an occasional absence of tremendous depth, including some scenes that don't look too far removed from their 2D counterpart. The occasionally bland 3D effect is offset by some tremendous visuals. The film opens with a particularly cool and novel effect of snow falling through the screen and even beyond the bottom "black bar," creating an effect that seems to blur the boundary between visual and screen. The same effect may be seen a bit later in a shot of shattering glass. Some scenes yield positively tremendous 3D effect. An early exterior space shot of Planet Baab shows faultless spacing; outer space seems to stretch to infinity, while the planet and the rings around it are perfectly realized. The transfer also retains the same striking qualities found on the 2D-only image. Colors are vibrant in every scene; whether the glossy whites, the glowing 7-Eleven signage, background computer readouts and buttons, or colorful monsters, the diverse palette never misses a beat. Details, too, are excellent, again whether handling shiny-glossy Planet Baab instrument clusters, textured alien skin, or complex uniform details. Blacks are perfect, not at all darker than the 2D version. All around, this is a very high quality 3D effort from Anchor Bay.
Escape from Planet Earth 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Escape from Planet Earth features an exemplary DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. From the outset, listeners are treated to a deep, big-stage sound that finds excellent balance and soundstage distribution. Main elements are of course handled by the front, but the surrounds carry a healthy amount of content, too, all in good working balance and order. Clarity is commendable even through the moments that play with the widest soundstage in the most challenging elements, including big music or swooping action effects. The former, the music, enjoys that big stage range while the latter features the same with plenty of discrete information to go along with an abundance of wide, spacious, in-motion sound elements that find a realistic precision in every scene. As it pumps out the big effects so well, so too do the little ambient effects shine through. Anchor Bay's track handles buzzing neon lights, the business end of electrified prodders, and nighttime insects with a natural, pinpoint effect that helps balance the track and bring to life the most critically nuanced elements. Dialogue plays evenly and accurately from the center. In short, a perfect soundtrack.
Escape from Planet Earth 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Escape from Planet Earth contains several quality extras on the 2D disc. No supplements are included on the 3D disc.
Escape from Planet Earth 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Escape from Planet Earth has a lot of fun exploring its characters and universe. Even if the film isn't a bastion of originality, it takes itself lightly. It's a buoyant, bubbly, happy-go-lucky sort of movie that just rolls with limited range and cleverly mixes together its pieces into a movie that feels familiar but at the same time rather fresh. It's not an instant classic of its genre, but chances are younger ones will love it and parents with a Sci-Fi itch to scratch will enjoy it, too. Anchor Bay's Bu-ray 2D/3D combo release of Escape from Planet Earth features tip-top video, excellent audio, and a few extras. Recommended.
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