The force is strong with this one. The 3D version of G Force may rightly be criticized as mere eye candy, but if that's the case, then-somewhat surprisingly-it's among the most opulent and luxurious eye candy we're likely to see this summer. From the first technology-rich sequences, the 3D experience reminds us of what it feels like to be a kid taking that first ride on Space Mountain: mouth slightly agape, head tilted skyward and eyes fixed blissfully wide. And one certainly gets the feeling this 3D pipeline is just getting started. But even with our eyeballs having been dazzled, by the end of G Force, the magic of this gimmick has worn off.
To get an idea of the landscape of G Force, think of a Jason Bourne movie with guinea pigs as major characters. An affable human, Ben, played with restraint by Zach (Hangover) Galifianakis, heads an under-the-radar project employing guinea pigs and a mole. I suspect that the opening sequence is riveting even without the 3D, but with the effects it's positively mesmerizing.
Soon, the FBI swoops in to shut things down with the operation. They are led by Arrested Development's loosest canon, Will Arnett, who brings his special brand of "I'm-about-to-lose-it" performing to Agent Kip Killan, and we're off to the races. In the process, we're treated to captures, escapes, teenaged cruelty to animals, pissed-off coffee machines and sweet revenge...not necessarily in that order. Our villain in this romp is Mr. Saber, played by the supremely talented Bill Nighy, whose impressive resume includes everything from the wonderful Billy Mack in Love Actually to the recent Harry Potter film. Here, he plays the megalomaniac Saber with suave despair.
The story moves buoyantly along with the predictable bumps and obstacles in the road, and a Hallmark moment dropped in here and there to maintain a standing as a family movie. And every time it does begin to bog down a bit, an insect flies-thanks to the 3D technology-over your shoulder as it heads toward the screen. Throughout the screening, it was a common sight to see someone flinch in the theater as they sought to avoid "things" flying about.
The voices of our G Force heroes carry the day. Sam Rockwell, Penelope Cruz, Steve Buscemi, Tracy Morgan, and Nick Cage clearly had great fun doing this film, bringing their animated counterparts to life on screen. And not only is the animation stunning, but the rodent mouths move in perfect synchronization with the lines they're speaking and raised eyebrows, frowns, and other human facial subtleties are depicted flawlessly.
What prevents G Force from being in Pixar's league, though, is the lack of magic accompanying us as we depart the theater: eye candy versus something deeper. It's what Wall-E, Toy Story, Up, and Ratatouille all had in common: the connection with the audience to what it means to be human, that well-aimed stroke of genius where the audience feels neither preached to nor patronized, but in the company of art. And as beautiful as G Force is to watch-and it is beautiful-at the end of the day it's another rendition of a well-worn tale.