Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

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— Zoe Saldana, Star Trek

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If it had been sprinkled with a dose of Pixar dust, G Force might’ve turned into a cool movie.

Discovery Balls

Nicolas Cage knows how to act like a mole
Nicolas Cage knows how to act like a mole

Here’s the premise: Three guinea pigs, a mole, a fly and an army of cockroaches have been enlisted in a super-secret FBI program. They go where eagles — and man — can’t.

But, of course, they’ve got to prove themselves or else their program’s gonna be shut down. Their human ringleader, Ben (Zach Galifianakis, Up in the Air), tries to assuage the bureau’s skepticism, but — shock of shocks — the agents on hand don’t buy it.

Thankfully, it just so happens G-Force is in the thick of a mission to prevent the megalomaniacal CEO of a consumer electronics manufacturer from taking over the world through military-grade chips placed in things like toaster ovens and coffee makers.

Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) wants his appliances to talk to each other so they can do things like remind you to buy more coffee when the supply gets low. But that awesome technology put in the wrong hands can lead to far more nefarious ends, such as a plot to transform all those gadgets into a massive robot called Clusterstorm that makes Michael Bay’s Transformers look like... Well, wait a minute. Transformers covers this territory with a lot more gusto.

Muskrat Love

This isn’t as thoroughly ill-conceived as George Lucas’ take on Howard the Duck back in the ’80s. There is a certain amount of entertainment value to be had, but this PG-rated farce is decidedly best left to G-rated audiences. That’s a shame given this is from the same writers behind the National Treasure movies, which more deftly cover material that appeals to a broad range of audiences.

In this case, this is the kind of kid’s piece where the high drama (like finding out you’re not a genetically engineered super spy, you’re just a run-of-the-mill runt) lasts all of two minutes. Conflict is immediately followed by resolution in order to accommodate ADD-addled audiences and a sprightly 88-minute running time (complete with lengthy end credits). Move on!

For older audiences, there is a curiosity factor surrounding talents like Nicolas Cage ( National Treasure), Penelope Cruz ( Nine) and Jon Favreau ( Iron Man) lending their voices to rodents. Cage, it must be said, nails his role as Speckles, a wicked-smart mole who knows all about corporate sabotage and computer hacking.

As it stands, though, the end product isn’t the franchise-starting blockbuster mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer was hoping for.

Blu-ray Extras

G-Force comes to Blu-ray in a well-loaded 3-disc combo pack, serving up the Blu-ray edition on Disc 1, a DVD version on Disc 2, and a digital copy on Disc 3.

Disc 1 offers up the supplements in high-def.

The best of the bunch is Access Granted: Inside the Animation Lab, a well-done 7-minute tour of the Sony animation studios conducted by director Yeatman. It offers an above-average look at the animation process.

There are also 6 deleted scenes, totaling 6 minutes, that are actually worth checking out. Some of the footage is referenced in the Cine-Explore Blu-ray commentary, but they’re a little rough in terms of image quality.

G-Force Mastermind is a nice little 4-minute segment about... the director’s son, who came up with the idea behind the movie when he was 5.

There are also three music videos. Jump by Flo Rida featuring Nelly Furtado is a disappointment as it relegates the extremely lovely Furtado to a Lara Croft-like CGI-rendered dancer/musician character. Ready to Rock is a mediocre song buoyed by a traditional movie tie-in video starring boy singer Steve Rushton. There’s also an extremely generic video called Go G-Force. No band is even associated with that one.

The rest of the standard supplements are weak.

Blaster’s Boot Camp is a pretty worthless 4-minute segment; its only value is in offering some specs and feature details on the gadgets used by G-Force.

Bruckheimer Animated is an unnecessary 3-minute retrospective on the effects work involved in some of Bruckheimer’s biggest hits, including Armageddon, The Rock, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (all released by Disney).

G-Farce is a particularly lame 1-minute collection of bloopers.

The DVD offers up all the aforementioned material plus an audio commentary from director Yeatman. It’s actually a DVD-exclusive track, not just an audio port from the Blu-ray’s Cine-Explore option. Even so, for those on Blu, stick with the Cine-Explore, which will be discussed in the next section.

The DVD also has a shameless piece of cross-promotion called Dylan and Cole Sprouse: Blu-ray Is Suite!Starring the kids from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, it’s basically a sales pitch for those watching the standard DVD to upgrade to Blu-ray.

As mentioned before, the third disc holds the digital copy download for use on portable devices.

Blu-ray Exclusives

The jewel of the package is the Cine-Explore option. While it’s not as super-slick as Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode (see Watchmen: Director’s Cut and Terminator Salvation), it is an awesome, dynamic presentation centered around a running commentary by director Yeatman. On the downside, Yeatman’s commentary gets interrupted, on occasion, by a few of the rodent stars in totally scripted and forced little skits of attempted comedy. Aside from that nuisance, the feature is a slick piece of work. Instead of the main feature maintaining its full 2.40:1 aspect ratio with other PIPs appearing on top, the movie shifts to a smaller window at times while other, multiple windows appear with behind-the-scenes footage. At times, there are four windows filling the screen.

Cine-Explore offers a secondary option to branch out to full-screen featurettes covering more detailed, behind-the-scenes information, then automatically returns to the feature film.

The Cine-Explore track is proof-positive sometimes the ideas, concepts and tinkering behind a blockbuster-wannabe offer much more interesting material than the movie itself. Besides, Yeatman’s an interesting tech-head who knows his stuff. He’s a visual effects guru who’s worked on all sorts of movies, including classics like Close Encounters and Buckaroo Banzai and not-so-classics like the live-action Underdog.

It’s worth noting that throughout the set references are made to the movie’s 3D theatrical presentation. It’s a shame the set doesn’t offer a 3D version of the movie, but no doubt, as with Pixar’s Up, a full Blu-3D edition will be released down the road as a new excuse for the studio to double-dip.

Yeatman also frequently speculates about the possibility of a G-Force sequel. It’s unlikely.

The disc is BD-Live enabled but at press time there were no G-Force-specific features online other than the trailer. However, other noteworthy material is available; trailers for Tron Legacy and Prince of Persia are available as HD downloads.

Picture and Sound

The movie’s big-sized ambitions are on display in a wide screen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The picture is crystal clear; the pristine quality is actually good enough to show off the limitations of the rodent animation. The intent was photo-realism; as evidenced on Blu-ray, the reality isn’t quite that good.

The Blu-ray audio features a robust English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, although the surround element doesn’t equate to showcase material. Also available are French, Spanish, and Portuguese tracks in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Optional subtitles on the Blu-ray include English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

The disc is also D-Box enabled for those with the D-Box Motion System.

As for the DVD, audio is available in English, French, and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and the subtitle options are English for the Hearing Impaired, French, and Spanish.

How to Use This Disc

It’s tempting to advise viewers to skip the movie and go straight to the Cine-Explore option and watch the movie that way. It’s more interesting and engaging. Alas, if you really want to absorb all the fineries of the plot and rodent scruples, you’ll need to watch the movie as a stand-alone feature.