“For years, we’ve been putting a secret into the heart of every member of the Saberling Family. Be it the cryogenic refrigerator or the microwave heated coffee maker. A Secret which is at the core of any successful family: Communication.”
When director Hoyt Yeatman’s son Hoyt, Junior, got a pet guinea pig, he began to put soldier-like gear on the unfortunate animal and imagine stories that the rodent was part of a secret spy ring. He would imagine all kinds of missions for the little guy. Thus was born the idea for G Force. Yeatman took the idea to Jerry Bruckheimer, who in turn shopped the idea to Disney. Before you know it, Bruckheimer had put his extensive resources into making the next cute talking animal film for the Mouse House.
“In 48 hours, when I press this button it will activate a wireless system, we call Sabersense, which will awaken the chips already in the logic boards of all Saberling appliances. Now in addition, Sabersense will link every old and new Saberling appliance in existence and create one big family. And then nothing will be the same.”
Ben (Galifianakis) is a scientist who works for the FBI on a grant from Homeland Security. He works with animals, bringing out their inner intelligence and making them into operatives. He has invented all kinds of miniature electronic gear to equip his tiny infiltration team. There’s a fly named Mooch who has the latest in eavesdropping technology. Roaches have these abilities as well. But at the heart of the team is the G Force. The team consists of three guinea pigs and a star nosed mole. The leader of the team is Darwin (Rockwell); the wheel guinea pig with a need for speed is Blaster (Morgan). The female in the team is Juarez (Cruz). The team’s computer whiz is the mole, Speckles (Cage). The FBI wants to cut their funding and shut down the project, so Ben sends the team into the field to prove their value by stealing information that appliance maker Leonard Saber (Nighy) has a master plan to take over the world using an army of his appliances. The op appears to go badly, and now there’s no stopping the FBI from killing the program … and the G Force. You know the idea, no loose ends. The team escapes to a local pet shop where they meet a variety of other interesting animals which include another guinea pig named Hurley (Favreau) and a manic hamster/ferret hybrid named Bucky (Buscemi). They have only 30 hours before Saberling has united their appliances into a machine that will destroy all of humanity.
G Force is actually quite an amusing film. The interaction of live action and CG animation is pretty much flawless. Not that the kids will notice that kind of perfect execution, but it does go a long way for the big kids in the room. Let’s face it, this screenplay isn’t going to be winning any statuettes in any award ceremony. It’s all completely unbelievable, contrived, and rather predictable. You’d think it came from a ten year old. Wait a minute; it did come from a ten year old. All of that might be true, but the question here has to be, is the movie fun? The answer to that is a resounding yes. Check your own logic board at the door, and you might find yourself being entertained here. The film was originally shown in Disney Digital 3D at the theaters, but that option isn’t included in this release.
The voice talent is all A listers here with few exceptions. Nicholas Cage, Penelope Cruz, John Faverau, Sam Rockwell, and Steve Buscemi all do wonderful jobs of bringing their characters to life here. I honestly stopped thinking about the particular voice actors within minutes of watching the film. One of the problems with having such an identifiable voice cast can be that the celebrity gets in the way. We begin to attribute the characters with reference points we’ve taken from the actor. It didn’t happen here, so it is that much easier to buy into this totally unbelievable situation. Ben’s assistant Marcie is played by Keli Garner, but I feel pretty bad for the actress. I’m not sure what the original intent was, but she barely speaks and ends up standing in the background merely reacting. Add to that the almost perfect performance by Bill Nighy. He always plays delicious villains, and this film is no exception … well … almost.
You can’t really talk about G Force without talking about the animation and live action blend that this film accomplishes. The CG work is pretty good. The animals are rendered with a wide array of movements and emotions. Hair elements interact very realistically with the surrounding environments. The mouth movements are a bit awkward. It’s the hardest thing to do and still keep the animal anatomy somewhat faithful to the real deal. The equipment is small and quite detailed, something you will definitely be able to best appreciate in high definition. All of this works well when you’re looking for that extra entertainment bang for your buck. Each of the characters is cleverly nuanced with particular traits that extend from their manner of speech down to that character’s manner of movement. They don’t just follow some simple programmed global movement protocol. It all is tiny minutiae, but it goes a long way toward making the characters more realistic. The sooner you’re able to just buy into their existence, the sooner the fun can begin.
G Force is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC/MPEG-4 codec at an average 26 mbps. The image has tremendous detail, and when you’re talking about this kind of a small team, that detail can make the difference. Colors aren’t flashy or bright, but they do look solid. The film is often dark in nature with a somewhat green tint. Since black levels are solid as well, these scenes offer nothing but the same sharp presentation as other parts of the film. The digital elements blend seamlessly with the filmed aspects to create a very good viewing experience.
The DTS-HD Master audio is far more aggressive than most of these kinds of films. The Transformers style climax offers an incredibly immersive experience. There’s a lot going on around you, and this surround mix won’t disappoint. If there is a flaw at all, I would say there were times that the score intruded a bit on the action. I wouldn’t say it was pervasive at all. There were just a couple of isolated situations during some of the high action bits. Dialog is always just where it needs to be. It’s all quite dynamic and crystal clear. Your sub will even get more play than you would expect.
This is one of those 3 disc collections. You get the Blu-ray with the film and a ton of extra features. There is also a standard DVD version of the film and a digital copy.
I only reviewed the Blu-ray content. All of it is in HD.
Cinexplore: You can watch the film with this PiP option which is hosted by Yeatman and Darwin and Blaster. You’ll get behind the scenes stuff and a lot of amusing commentary.
Deleted Scenes: (6:17) There are 6 in all that you can select individually, or use the handy play all feature. Most are merely extended scenes.
Blaster’s Boot Camp: (4:41) Blaster hosts this orientation video for prospective team recruits. Find out if you have what it takes to join the team.
G Force Mastermind: (4:13) Meet young Hoyt junior and learn the genesis of the film.
Bruckheimer Animated: (3:12) Just a big Bruckheimer tribute piece, and he’s not even dead.
Access ranted: (7:55) Go inside the labs of Sony’s Image Works and follow the animation process of the Hurley dancing scene through all of its stages of development.
Music Videos: Three of the film’s songs.
I know you’re going to read a ton of reviews that knock on the simple and unrealistic story here. If that’s what’s really important to you, this wasn’t your kind of film anyway. It fits the Disney mold, and while I’m not going to nominate it for any awards here, I was entertained. Unfortunately, the film did not do as well at the box as everyone hoped it would. It did a respectable $115 million, but that’s on a Bruckheimer $150 million budget. Hopefully these Blu-rays will move, because I wouldn’t mind seeing more. The end certainly sets up the sequel quite nicely. I suspect a direct to video might be the only way we’ll get a sequel now, however. Maybe they can call it “Guinea Pigs Gone Wild”.