by Mel Valentin
"G-Force," the latest, not-so-greatest effort from uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is a kid-friendly (and, thus, adult unfriendly) live-action/CG film to hit multiplexes as the summer blockbuster season winds down. Bruckheimier, best known for his hyper-masculine action films ("Bad Boys I and II," "Black Hawk Down," "Armageddon," "Con Air," "The Rock," "Crimson Tide," "Top Gun," "Beverly Hills Cop") and investigative procedurals on television (e.g., "CSI," "CSI: Miami," "CSI: New York," "Cold Case," "Without a Trace"), may be new to the family-oriented film, but he’s simply taken what he’s learned from action films, added talking animals and toilet humor, and come up with "G-Force," a forgettable, occasionally offensive, kid’s film shot in Disney Digital 3D (because 3D makes every film at least 33% better) about a super-secret squad of genetically altered super-spies who just happen to be guinea pigs (and a mole).The super-secret squad, team leader Darwin (voiced by Sam Rockwell), martial arts expert Juarez (Penélope Cruz), weapons expert Blaster (Tracy Morgan), computer expert and Speckles the Mole (Nicholas Cage), and Mooch the Fly, the may be government-funded, but not intentionally. Ben (Zach Galifianakis), a government researcher, created the squad without the approval of his direct or indirect superiors. As proof of that he hasn't wasted government funds, Ben sends the team on their first mission: infiltrate the home of billionaire Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy). Saber, an appliance manufacturer, plans to unleash a global communications system connecting every appliance. For what end, nefarious or otherwise, remains unclear for most of G-Force’s relatively brief running time (it clocks in at 90 minutes with credits), but Saber is a villain and villains always have master plans.
"The dog (or is guinea pig?) days of summer have definitely arrived."
When the data recovered by Darwin and his team turns out to be inconclusive, Ben’s new superior, Kip Killian (Will Arnett), disbands the team and confiscates Ben's high-tech equipment. Darwin and his team manage to avoid capture by sneaking into an animal carrier headed for a pet store nearby. There, they meet Hurley (Jon Favreau), a guinea pig with a flatulence problem and an unshakeable desire to be adopted by a human family, Bucky, an ultra-territorial hamster, and three, not-so-bright mice. With the activation of Saber’s plan fast approaching, Darwin and the others have to escape from the pet store, find Ben and his assistant, Marcie (Kelli Garner), evade government agents sent by Kip, and, to keep things semi-interesting, foil Saber’s (apparent) plan for world domination.
G-Force is the first feature film by Hoyt Yeatman, a visual effects veteran with 45 credits spread out over three decades. Yeatman also receives a story credit, but Cormac and Marianne Wibberley turned Yeatman’s ideas into a screenplay (or at least something resembling a screenplay). With its emphasis on guinea pig action and interaction, G-Force gives its human characters, especially Ben (a wasted Galifianakis) and his assistant, Marcie (Garner, also wasted). What’s left are comic book villains, convoluted, if somewhat satisfying set pieces, and a mix of verbal and physical humor clearly aimed at children under 10 (or younger). The verbal humor ranges from the racially insensitive, if not downright racist, in almost every scene involving Blaster or Juarez, to lazily scripted, lazily delivered jokes and gags.
Pre-adolescent children and their parents, not to mention non-discriminating adults, might not mind, though, as long as the guinea pig squad is onscreen involved in another set piece. Yeatman’s background in visual effects serves him well time and again. He directs the set pieces with an emphasis on spatial and geographic clarity, something often missing from effects-heavy films. The set pieces take full advantage of the guinea pigs physical attributes and abilities, up to and including the final set piece against a Transformers-style robot. The 3D also helps to make G-Force passably entertaining, but it’s also obvious Yeatman and his screenwriters relied on 3D to cover G-Force’s story-related shortcomings.Aside from the set pieces, "G-Force’s" other plus lies in the voice talent. Cage and Rockwell are practically unrecognizable as Speckles and Darwin respectively. The other voice talent is easily recognizable, but they’re also generally well suited to their character (annoying racial stereotypes aside, that is). If, ultimately, you choose to see "G-Force" theatrically, don’t forget to bring your inner five-year old with you (your inner six-year old might be too old, though).
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originally posted: 07/24/09 04:46:48