The dead of winter is a great time to take the family out to the movies, but it’s not typically the time to find great family fare at your local theatre. Landing in this year’s February dead zone is Entertainment One’s Escape from Planet Earth, which boasts plenty of star power in its voice cast, but lacks the animation pedigree of Disney Pixar, Dreamworks, Sony, or Fox. But while Escape from Planet Earth doesn’t reach the same heights as the best from those studios, it fits solidly in the middle tier, providing fun and fast-moving action that older children should enjoy, though it does feel a little too violent for six and under.
Escape from Planet Earth is the story of brothers Scorch and Gary Supernova. Scorch is the bombastic hero of his people, traveling the galaxy in search of adventure, supported at mission control by Gary, the meek engineer. At its heart, the movie is about the sibling rivalry between Scorch and Gary, and their inability to realize how well they work together and how much they need each other.When Scorch fires Gary and heads off to the “Dark Planet” (aka Earth) to uncover why alien visitors don’t return, he’s quickly captured by the army, forcing Gary to overcome his timidness and rescue his brother.You can probably guess where the story goes from there, as there’s not really an original thought in this movie’s script, which borrows heavily from other movies (animated and otherwise), but doesn’t really take those elements in a different direction.
For example, the eventual prison escape scene is very generic, lacking the intelligence or character details that Pixar put into Toy Story 3’s day care escape. Much like the rest of the movie, it’s by-the-numbers and lacks any real emotional connection, but it does have zip.
Vancouver’s Rainmaker Entertainment are the animation studio behind Escape from Planet Earth, making their first theatrical feature. In a former life, Rainmaker made the popular computer animated TV series ReBoot and Beast Wars, while lately they’ve been responsible for the recent slate of Barbie DVD releases. Clearly, this movie represents a huge step forward in quality and ambition, and for the most part, they’ve succeeded, especially on the visual front. With some extra work put into storytelling and character development, there’s every reason to believe they can keep getting better.
Escape from Planet Earth did load up on Hollywood voice talent, featuring Brendan Fraser and Rob Corddry as Scorch and Gary, supported by Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Sophia Vergara, and William Shatner as the villainous General Shanker. Unfortunately, other than the two leads, most of the other celebrity voices aren’t given a lot to work with, or a much of a character to create. That’s most evident with the trio of aliens held in captivity on earth, voiced by Jane Lynch, George Lopez, and Craig Robinson. Those are three legitimately funny performers, but you wouldn’t know it from the movie, which doesn’t even try to make their characters interesting or funny.
The GamerPops Recommendation
Escape from Planet Earth is definitely fun, colourful and energetic, but it seems like an adventure better suited to a family DVD night down the road, rather than the cost of a night at the movies. But if you go, expect an enjoyable, if lightweight, movie with plenty of life that your children should enjoy, on par with movies like Over the Hedge, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and the rather similar Monsters vs. Aliens.