Escape From Planet Earth – Review
Finally making its way into UK cinemas more than a year after its release overseas, Escape From Planet Earth is the latest in what seems like an endless series of low-level computer-animated 3D family tales. While this series of films occasionally gives us an unfettered gem like Despicable Me, Escape From Planet Earth is instead sadly very middle-of-the-pile.
It’s the story of an alien astronaut named Scorch Supernova, whose brother and mission control-handler Gary embarks on a daring rescue mission to rescue him when he’s captured on “The Dark Planet”, aka Earth. Throw in not one but two conspiracy plots, a handful of alien misfits and the requisitely dazzling 3D visuals, and the stage is set. The event itself however, manages to be nothing more than faintly entertaining, but completely forgettable.
As voice casts go, a level of outside-the-box thought seems to have gone into this one. Brendan Fraser gets to revisit his Rick O’Connell role somewhat as Scorch, while Rob Corddrey finally gets some time front-and-centre that, whilst nowhere near enough to make him a household name, is at least nice to see. Filling in the token girl roles meanwhile are Jessica Alba and Sarah Jessica Parker, both of whom seem so vocally miscast that they seem to have been a mere afterthought. William Shatner’s casting however, whilst clearly a decent enough production in-joke making its way into the finished film, simply seems wasted in what is ultimately just a generic cartoon villain.
Not brilliantly animated, Escape From Planet Earth is still surprisingly worth noting for it’s visual style elsewhere. The use of the 3D format is well-executed and actually manages to build excitement when needed, whilst the landscapes and the world of the movie itself are both well designed and impressive to take in. Particularly impressive is the third act’s climactic encounter, which is at once both well-concieved and, in it’s use of a sunset, stunning to witness. Visuals alone can’t make a film however, as Terrence Malick continues to prove to this day, and Escape From Planet Earth continually suffers from the fact that – on a story level – we’ve been here before with Monsters Vs. Aliens, Megamind and at least three other computer-animated tales you’ll recognise from the past five years.
Nothing about Escape From Planet Earth is enough to call it a must-see, but it’s far from the worst animated movie you’ll have seen. As a family outing, kids will doubtless love it, but they’re unlikely to rave about it at school the following day. Parents meanwhile will find enough to chuckle at (there are references to nearly ever science-fiction property you can think of in there), but leaving the cinema realistically means leaving the experience behind as well.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Rob Corddry, Brendan Fraser, William Shatner