On the planet Baab, admired astronaut Scorch Supernova 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, head of mission control at BASA. When BASA's no-nonsense chief Lena 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 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 and their adventure hungry son Kip.
Directed by: Cal Brunker
. Starring: Brendan Fraser
, Rob Corddry
, Ricky Gervais
, Jonathan Morgan Heit
, Jessica Alba
, Sofía Vergara
, Paul Scheer
, Jason Simpson
, Sarah Jessica Parker
, Doug Abrahams
, Jason Benson
, Trevor Devall
, Brian Dobson
. Music by: Aaron Zigman
Escape from Planet Earth is the theatrical debut from a little studio called Rainmaker Entertainment, and shows a tad more promise than the wealth of uninspired animated sequels such as Ice Age: Continental Drift that families have been forced to sit through this past summer. It concerns a place called Planet Baab, where a pair of brothers named Gary and Scorch Supernova (voiced by Rob Corddry and Brendan Fraser, respectively) work for a space program. Gary is the head of mission control, frequently pressing buttons and maintaining different technical jobs, while Scorch has the luxury of experiencing everything firsthand given his role as the astronaut. One day, Gary gets tired of Scorch's carelessness for assignments and his run-of-the-mill planning thanks to his ego, and Scorch is tired of Gary's sophistication and smothering seriousness. To show gumption, bravery, and self-reliance, Scorch decides to venture to a place called "the dark planet" (Earth), where, not long after, he is kidnapped by a group of humans and locked in Area 51. It's up to his brother Gary, who leaves behind his wife and kids, to save his brother's backside, yet again.
Just within the first half of Escape from Planet Earth, we see how this film came to fruition. When Scorch lands on Earth, he noticed a waving balloon in front of a store and mistakes it for another lifeform. The waving balloon is a door-greeter for a 711 perfectly adjacent to Area 51. Inside the 711, where Gary stops upon his arrival to Earth, two geeky employees try to get him to drink a gorgeous blue Slurpee, shoving more product placement in our faces. Escape from Planet Earth doesn't have the budget of many CGI features (and I highly doubt it will make anywhere near the money they are known for either), so much of the profit and spending money was likely built because of unnecessary, unsubtle advertising.
Aside from that fact, this animated feature isn't half bad. It's first half is slow, methodical, and a tad too chaotic, where its second and third half are a delightful mix of humor and colors. At least for me. The rows in front of me which were occupied with about fourteen kids rarely chuckled or even so much as laughed. I fear that kids are reaching a phase where they've "seen it all," what with being bombarded by constant new animated programs and films, and because of that, this film inevitably feels like a genial, yet uninspired rehash of material. This I can agree with; my chuckles never stemmed past that nor were my smiles held for very long. There was no gripping attachment to these characters unlike what I've seen in Disney, Dreamworks, or Pixar films, and because of that, this falls flat in the impact and character departments.
Yet I still can't neglect the high level of imagination this film possesses and the overall smoothness of its production. Rainmaker Entertainment has long produced direct-to-DVD features that have been met with mixed public reception. Scrolling through titles like Scary Godmother, Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild, and a never-ending onslaught of Barbie-trademarked films gives the impression to an unfamiliar consumer that they specialize in digital babysitters rather than impacting adventures. However, if there's one thing they seemed to hit home with here, it's the level of surprise, style, and motion that was put into picture. This doesn't quite look like a direct-to-DVD movie, and its adventure translates nicely to the big screen. Even the animation doesn't seem like it would blend in with other medium-budget CGI features often found on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. It's a surprisingly very tasteful endeavor.
As far as the storyline, which seems reminiscent of a film called Planet 51, unseen by me, there's not enough interest to make you analyze every possible outcome the characters could end up in, but there's not enough distance to where you absolutely don't care either. By the final act of the film, I wasn't deep into the mindset of loathe and actually found myself giggling at plot-points and certain details. Take for example the justification for imprisonment one of the aliens makes when Gary is thrown into Area 51 while trying to rescue his brother; he states that it was aliens who created revolutionary technology like the smartphone, the computer, the search engine, and even animated films. The reason we weren't told that was the evil-head of Area 51 named Shanker (William Shatner) imprisoned the aliens and gave credit to men like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and John Lasseter. "C'mon, man, do you really think a human could've made all that stuff?" one alien asks.
Escape from Planet Earth isn't really the most ideal viewing for children, especially considering even at eighty-nine minutes it treads the fine-line of being much of a muchness. But there's a good heart, a somewhat interesting story, solid visual flair, tolerable characters, a recognizable and capable cast of voices, and the generic but welcomed warmth animated films so innocently bare. If it's the worst animated film I'll see this year, I'll be quietly content; if it's the best I'll be concerned.
Review by Steve Pulaski from the Internet Movie Database.