Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 6th, 2004
Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) is training at a CIA summer camp. A midnight drill that resultsin the flight of the camp leader turns out not to have been a drill at all. It turns out that the man isa villain (so why did the CIA let him run the camp at all?) and he has absconded with a mind-control device. Muniz is sent to England to track him down, where he hooks up with fellow teenspy Hannah Spearritt and adult-yet-childlike handler Anthony Anderson.
The idea of a CIA …raining camp for children, a camp that operates without the knowledgeof the parents, has some understandable appeal at the fantasy level, but it is also a pretty nastypremise. After all, there once was a real-world equivalent of this little exercise, and that wascalled Hitler Youth. But enough of that. Viewers younger than the main character might enjoythe action and the humour, but everyone else is likely to have their patience tried. The CGIeffects are obvious, the jokes are dull (though Muniz often looks amusingly horrified at thedialogue he and the rest of the cast are forced to speak) and the action is routine.
The 5.1 track is very active, particularly with the music. There are numerous sound effectsin surround as well, and they are well placed, but there is also a sense of rather forced pickingand choosing, the aural equivalent of shoving things at the screen in a 3-D movie. Thus, thereisn’t a tremendous sense of a complete environment.
The picture comes in both fullscreen and 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen formats (with acomplete set of special features on both sides of the disc). The colours are very bright andvibrant, and the contrasts and blacks are both very strong. There is no grain, but there is somevery slight edge enhancement visible.
The extras have been put together very much with young viewers in mind. Watch the filmin “Agent Mode” and every so often Muniz and Anderson interrupt the film to give you amultiple-choice question. Answering the whole quiz correctly promises to open and Easter Egg.Instead of the usual commentary, there is a visual one, where Muniz, Anderson or Spearrittfreeze the film to make a brief comment on what we have just seen. The “Back in Action”featurette is the usual promotional fluff. There are three deleted scenes, and three extended ones.Also here: a behind-the-scenes gallery and the theatrical trailer (along with ads for other MGMreleases). The menu forces you to watch or skip through trailers as it loads, and has a fullyanimated and scored main screen and transitions.
I can’t really see how the concept can be dragged through yet more sequels, but beprepared.
Special Features List
- “Agent Mode” Interactive Quizq
- Visual Cast Commentary
- “Back in Action” Featurette
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailers