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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Cal Brunker
Cast:
Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, Ricky Gervais, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Jessica Alba , Sofía Vergara, Sarah Jessica Parker , William Shatner
Writing Credits:
Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker, Tony Leech (story), Cory Edwards (story)

Tagline:
Earth's greatest secrets are about to break out!

Synopsis:
The 3D animated family comedy catapults moviegoers to planet Baab where admired astronaut Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) is a national hero to the blue alien population. A master of daring rescues, Scorch pulls off astonishing feats with the quiet aid of his nerdy, by-the-rules brother, Gary (Rob Corddry), head of mission control at BASA. When BASA’s no-nonsense chief Lena (Jessica Alba) informs the brothers of an SOS from a notoriously dangerous planet, Scorch rejects Gary’s warnings and bounds off for yet another exciting mission. But when Scorch finds himself caught in a fiendish trap set by the evil Shanker (William Shatner) it’s up to scrawny, risk-adverse Gary to do the real rescuing. As the interplanetary stakes rise to new heights, Gary is left to save his brother, his planet, his beloved wife Kira (Sarah Jessica Parker) and their adventure hungry son Kip.

Box Office:
Budget
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$15.891 million on 3288 screens.
Domestic Gross
$55.612 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 6/4/2013

Bonus:
• Both 2D and 3D Versions of Film
• Audio Commentary with Director Cal Brunker
• “The Making of Escape from Planet Earth” Featurette
• Alternate Takes and Deleted Scenes
• “How to Make an Animated Feature” Featurette
• Music Featurettes
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD and Digital Copies


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Escape From Planet Earth [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 22, 2013)

In recent years, sci-fi animated films haven’t done well. 2011’s Mars Needs Moms tanked, and 2009’s Planet 51 mustered a mediocre $41 million.

I figured Escape from Planet Earth bombed, mostly because I don’t even remember it from its February 2013 debut, but it actually did passable business. No, its $55 million won’t impress, but with a budget of only $40 million, it was easily the least expensive of this bunch, so it might actually turn a small profit when all is said and done.

Because neither Moms nor 51 did much for me, I go into Escape with low expectations, but I enjoy animation enough to give it a shot. We go to Planet Baab, where we meet an intelligent scientist named Gary Supernova (voiced by Rob Corddry) and his manly, heroic brother Scorch (Brendan Fraser). Gary acts as the brains behind Scorch’s brawn when the latter goes on space missions.

When an SOS arrives, Scorch receives a risky assignment to go to the “Dark Planet”. Gary resists this job, but danger-addicted Scorch accepts anyway and creates a rift between the brothers.

This doesn’t go well, as the SOS turns out to be a trap set by villainous Shanker (William Shatner). The baddie captures Scorch and causes a change of pace, as Gary needs to attempt a rescue of his brother.

When compared to Mars Needs Moms and Planet 51, Escape looks pretty good. This may fall into the “faint praise” category, as its predecessors were mediocre at best. Neither truly stunk, but neither did much for me, either.

While no one will confuse Escape for the best of the animation genre, at least it keeps us engaged across the majority of its 89 minutes – though it takes a while to get going. The first act feels too busy, and not just because it needs to provide so much of the flick’s exposition. The opening half-hour or so simply tries too hard to throw entertainment at us, and most of it fails to feel organic; it comes across as contrived.

This impression may not make much sense when one considers the hyperactive comedic pacing that comes with so much of the rest of the film, but I think the second and third acts feel more natural. Essentially the first third doesn’t earn its frantic pacing, while the other hour comes feels more dynamic and involving.

I can’t think of much here that seems impressive, but the film throws enough at the wall that some of it sticks, and a nice cast helps. Ricky Gervais delights as a persnickety computer, and we get talents like Craig Robinson and Jane Lynch in supporting roles. Most of the actors add spark to the proceedings, though I think Fraser overdoes his performance; granted, Scorch is supposed to be overbearing and obnoxious, but I think Fraser takes it too far.

Still, that’s a small complaint about a moderately likable film. At no point does Escape turn into a memorable experience, but it amuses and entertains enough to achieve its goals.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

Escape from Planet Earth appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The film delivered terrific visuals.

Sharpness was excellent, as the movie exhibited fine clarity and delineation. If any softness materialized, it escaped me. (Ha!) No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. Source defects also failed to materialize in this clean presentation.

Colors looked great. With its alien environment and characters, the movie boasted a broad palette, and the hues consistently came across as vivid and dynamic. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed clear and full. No issues developed in this outstanding transfer.

I also felt very pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Escape. An action-comedy that didn’t skimp on the “action” side of things, all of the alien and battle shenanigans ensured that the mix offered plenty of involving material. The chaos filled out the spectrum in an active, involving manner that created a lot of exciting audio.

All five channels featured plenty of unique elements, and they fit together in a fine manner. Even quieter scenes used the soundscape in a satisfying manner. Music featured nice stereo imaging, and we found plenty of localized dialogue.

Audio quality also was very good. Speech seemed crisp and distinctive, as I noticed no flaws like edginess. Music seemed warm and full, while effects added a real bang to the proceedings. Those elements showed good clarity and accuracy, and they offered tight, deep bass as well. The track seemed vibrant and dynamic as it accentuated the movie in a satisfying manner.

When we shift to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Cal Brunker. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at how he came onto the project and its development, cast and performances, story/character areas, animation and visual design, influences/references, and a few other areas.

Despite an occasional dead spot, Brunker usually makes this an engaging piece. Many animation commentaries focus on the technical elements, but Brunker chats a lot about story and characters, which makes it particularly interesting; it’s good to hear why they made various choices. We find a nice discussion here.

The Making of Escape from Planet Earth runs 21 minutes, 15 seconds and offers notes from Brunker, composer Aaron Zigman, music supervisor Dana Sano, musicians Cody Simpson and Eric Holljes, and actors Brendan Fraser, George Lopez, Jane Lynch, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rob Corddry, Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara, William Shatner, and Craig Robinson. “Making” examines story and characters, cast and performances, and music.

While I didn’t expect a deep program from “Making”, I thought it’d be better than this. With 21 minutes at its disposal, I figured we’d get a decent overview of the production; instead, we find a really long advertisement. It’s fun to see the actors at work, but most of the show bores.

Under Alternate Takes and Deleted Scenes, we get a three-minute, 53-second collection. We find 13 different segments, though they all run as one long piece; you can access individual sequences via chapter search but they’re not found on a menu.

Given that we get 13 clips in less than four minutes, one should expect brief additions/changes. They’re entertaining enough, and they’re all finished animation, which comes as a pleasant surprise. (We also hear someone other than George Lopez voice Thurman.)

During the three-minute, 43-second How to Make an Animated Feature, Brunker leads us through the processes required. We see various stages as the director discusses them. This won’t do much for knowledgeable fans but it offers a good tutorial for newbies.

Under Music Featurettes, we locate three clips. We get a music video for Owl City’s “Shooting Star” as well as Delta Rae’s performance of “What Matters Most” and Cody Simpson’s performance of “Shine Supernova”. “Star” provides a bland mix of movie clips and lipsynch footage. Both “Matters” and “Shine” open with musician interviews before they become their own combo of film shots and recording studio footage. None of this entertains.

The disc opens with ads for Hoodwinked Too!, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. No trailer for Escape shows up here.

Disc Two provides a DVD Copy of the film – with a smattering of extras such as the audio commentary – and Disc Three gives us a Digital Copy of Escape From Planet Earth. Finally, Disc Four delivers a 3D Blu-ray Copy of Escape From Planet Earth. Maybe someday I’ll get a 3D TV, but right now, I don’t have that capability, so I can’t screen this version. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention its inclusion.

If you want great animated entertainment, you won’t find it with Escape from Planet Earth. However, you will find a reasonably likable and amusing little action comedy and you could do much worse. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals and audio along with a decent set of supplements led by a good commentary. While not a classic, Escape offers a fun time.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.75 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main