Planet Baab has evolved as our own despite implications we, as humans, evolved backwards. Celebrity worship leads evening news, bumbling heroism is plastered onto breakfast cereals, and identifiable track suits are adorned with corporate logos. Scorch Supernova is a glistening beacon of perfection, except for being an idiot.
Brendan Frasier does his best Patrick Warburton as an over-aggressive, stardom infatuated moron who departs to Earth, err, ‘Dark Planet,’ to rescue a small fleet of captured multi-planet aberrations. In the end, Scorch and his brother Gary leave most of them on Earth. So, mission accomplished?
Like Scorch, Escape from Planet Earth is a wee bit full of itself, dumping pop culture zingers and marginally infectious energy onto the screen in hopes of having something stick. Toss in 7-11 plot points (the convenience chain must have funded half of this movie) and Escape is a wee bit tangled in its own vines, or tentacles. Aliens have tentacles. Always.
Pacing is expedient, enough for any passing groans to be wiped free by upcoming events. Escape loves hard to follow action, zipping spaceships and fighter jets through a dazzling frame that only slightly recalls Independence Day. Stretchy animation adds a pleasing layer of cartoon mayhem, dropping any shred of internal reality for sketchy gags that work about half the time.
To its credit, this visual dazzler is a champion of design. Plotting leads into a planet-destroying super weapon, if only to give main characters something to do. This towering hunk of metal, LEDs, and glowing speheres akin to a Frankenstein laboratory is enjoyably imposing, lending credence to the madness of a villainous general.
Escape is superficial enough to be mindless, possibly damaging in its flighty plotting. Something, something self-sacrifice is rendered moot as a metaphor with a Hollywood ending, bug-eyed Area 51 denizens saviors as they impersonate The Beatles. Because it’s funny. Not really.
This Weinstein feature tries hard to avoid being lambasted, ducking and dodging around the screen in a dizzying display of frantic screaming. Toss in a British-speaking computer network (Ricky Gervais) – because even Planet Baab can’t get enough of their dry wit – and you have a film calculated to entertain. Those calculations lead it down a pathway of cliché, playing safe or animated entertainment be damned. Escape is difficult to despise, but rendered easy to forgot.
Breaking news: CG animated Blu-ray looks perfect!
Oh, you probably knew that, so why are we here? To stroke compressionist egos? Sure, they deserve credit, the wild action scenes flipping out and kept under visual lock down. Search for artifacts under duress, including countless scenes of sparks or confetti. You won’t come across any. AVC proves its worth as a necessitated advancement, as if it hasn’t already well into the life of Blu-ray.
Escape’s spectacular color palette offers dizzying arrays of smooth gradients and lush saturation. Peep out contrasting selections that stray far from orange & teal, yet still prove beautifully appealing. Light blue alien skin accounts for much, backed by flawless primaries. Use of negative whites peppered with reds or blues, all caped in black, are well chosen.
Spiffy contrast adds depth whether in 2D or 3D, dimensions apparent and rich. Sharpness equates to perfectionism, dishing out layers of texture, despite some simplistic design choices for Baab residents. Cities, Earth-bound or otherwise, tighten up to showcase resolution, objects visible into the furthest reaches of the frame’s horizon. Some may bemoan a shred of aliasing; those people would be Blu-ray critics.
Packed inside a faux 2.35:1 frame, Escape breaks the confines of its black bars to plop 3D-centric debris outside of its designated play space. Sparks, confetti, and smoke will burst through perceived seams for the fun of it, and results are fashionable and appreciable. Depth gains an extra foreground, using it to embellish already active 3D shenanigans.
Escape is not a dimensional landing point, some flatter dialogue scenes uninteresting, if still deepening backgrounds. However, those are short, much of the piece infatuated with busyness, streaking toward the screen with exploitative ball & paddles, space ships, or glorious universe views. Cities or homesteads are wonderful, angles accentuating the frontal objects effectively. It’s a joy to watch.
What it lacks in positive LFE activity (and it still has some), Escape will make up with swirling 7.1 positioning. Object tracking is precise, and dialogue is spit out from stereos where the visuals dictate. Chase scenes are full of vigor, especially the final canyon chase with F-16s passing through and firing bullets.
Explosions, one of a comet, another of alien ships, dig a bit into the lacking low-end with a pittance of energy. The DTS-HD mix is scared of becoming loud or jolting kids out of their seats. An early action scene uses a power suit to swing cars, all transitioned within the positional channels, while forgetting heavy thuds to sell scale. Still, it’s fun and only missing a partial element of success.
Director Cal Bunker hosts a solo commentary track (2D only, as with all extras) with general making-of information spills. A cotton candy-esque fluffy making-of featurette is 21-minutes of cheerful marketing. Some deleted scenes are joined by a kid-friendly, super short look at what goes into animated films, followed up with some insight into the music. Blah.