Fly Me to the Moon
Admit it: you thought Space Chimps was bad. Well think again. This 3D animated kiddie flick (the first feature so designed) might as well have been written by monkeys, it’s an insult to the intelligence of toddlers. (Not mine though – he liked it.)
Where to begin? The concept is that three young houseflies stow away on the Apollo 11 space rocket with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. They fly further and faster than any flies before them. Then they come home.
Along the way there are… not adventures really, but scrapes. They are nearly swatted. They nearly miss the flight. They are bottled up in a test tube and nearly become science exhibits. The fat one, Scooter, is so obsessed with food he is nearly jettisoned into the cosmos. It’s no piece of cake, this mission.
Pixar makes it all look so easy, but neither director Ben Stassen nor writer Domonic Paris, have tried their hand at an animated feature before, and the results ain’t pretty.
The photography may be 3D but the characters are all paper-thin. Our three heroes are Nat, IQ and Scooter, and they each get precisely one character attribute. Scooter is fat. IQ is smart – or at least, he wears specs, which is much the same thing. And Nat is a dreamer. Then there’s Grandpa (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) who fills their heads with romantic stories about crossing the Atlantic with Amelia Earhardt (she’d have crashed too, if he hadn’t buzzed up her nostril).
Oddly, the scenes on the Apollo mission have an earnest, scrupulously researched aspect – maybe that Stassen’s background on 3D non-fiction films like Wild Safari 3D coming out. It makes a weird mix with the malarkey back on Earth, where villainous Soviet flies (Ed Begley Jr voicing Poopchev and Tim Curry as Yegor) attempt to sabotage the lunar module’s re-entry. Nicolette Sheridan lends her vocal chords to the sexy Russian double agent, Nadia.
Quite why the filmmakers imagined this silly Cold War intrigue would interest their pre-teen audience I don’t know, but the movies’ pre-women’s lib portrait of neurotic, stay-at-home moms is equally redundant.
One thing it does have going for it: subjective traveling shots of the kids’ mazy flight patterns makes more imaginative use of 3D than we usually see.
Still, it’s a shame everything looks so crappy. Houseflies may like that kind of thing, but it’s not for everyone.Tom Charity
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