First it was New York, then it was L.A., and now things are getting so rough that Snake Plissken is going to have to bail out of Earth itself. Oh, come on, people, don't tell me you weren't thinking it when you saw this film's title, even if you only did it to not think of "Planet 51". Hey, "Planet 51" could have been worse, you know, like this film, or the video game "[u]E.T.:[/u] Escape from Planet Earth"... I think. Yeah, I didn't play that game, but then again, not a whole lot of people did, as surely as not a whole lot of people are going to see this film, except maybe the John Carpenter fans who really are expecting this to be the completion to the "Escape" trilogy, seeing as how marketing behind this project is limited. Man, Carpenter hasn't done anything in so long that it would be in his financial interesting and, well, just plain interesting for him to do an animated "family" film (I don't want to know about his family), but if any legendary gorror filmmaker was going to direct this, then it would be David Cronenberg, because this film is so Canadian that it gave Brendan Fraser and William Shatner jobs. Poor Shatner can't get away from either space or Priceline, so I guess Kaley Cuoco really is a good casting choice for the role of his daughter in the newer Priceline ad campaigns, because looking at her level of success outside of "The Big Bang Theory", she can't afford get away from nerdy stuff either, even if Shatner would have to have been 54 when he had her. Hey, Shatner's awesome enough to get a gal at that age, but at 82, he doesn't appear to be able to even get good film roles, which isn't to say that I can't compliment certain aspects of this misfire.
The animations in this film aren't all that special, as they're conventional and, if you will, a little too over-the-top, often to the point of feeling lacking in life, yet the designs never abate when it comes to delivering on sheer color, particularly during the action. The film doesn't exactly play up action all that much, and when it does, it's hardly all that special, but heights in set piece liveliness such as the action prove to be reasonably fun, if formulaic in their staging and upping momentum. Really, technical value is consistent in sustaining some degree of entertaining momentum, which is truly charged by genuine highlights in writing, of which there are only so many. To tell you the truth in advance, Bob Barlen's and Cal Brunker's script is not simply weak, but bad, so it's Brunker's still-flawed direction which really saves the final product as merely mediocre, although it does receive help from highlights in humor that are in turn complimented by highlights in voice acting, in addition to the direction. Granted, even then, Brunker, as director, may save this film, but also threatens the final product with his own laziness, and yet, the point is that credit is due to brisk pacing, backed by the sense of laziness' at least being prevalent enough to not feel actively insulting. Well, the film takes down to the viewers a fair bit, yet on the whole, this flick is simply too bland to be bad, and while that aspect is ultimately what saves the misguided misfire as simply mediocre, there's no denying that the technical sharpness and occasionally storytelling sharpness don't have something to do with the final product's ever so narrowly avoiding collapse into contemptibility. Of course, the fact of the matter is that this film is no more likable than it is unlikable, having its strengths, to be sure, but also an almost crippling collection of weaknesses, or at least laziness, even within its basic story concept.
Now, I'm not asking that this film be all that unique, but may I be struck down if there's anything original here, as this narrative, at least in concept, is so shamelessly trite that even the sci-fi mythology behind it conforms too much to traditional sci-fi formulas, as well as to human cultures. The concept behind this film itself is completely uncreative, being lacking in its mythology's depth, as well as devoid of originality in its story, whose scripted execution, courtesy of Bob Barlen and Cal Brunker, makes matters worse with a wealth of tropes, as well as plenty of other problems. Again, while there are highlights in Barlen's and Brunker's writing, this script, as this film's weakest attribute, is pretty bad, with humor which is plagued with painfully obvious references, glaring immaturity and all-around cheesiness that exacerbate a sense of laziness, which is even found within characterization. Thinly drawn characters back a lame, clumsily structured plot that pays little attention coherency, and is only one of many misguided elements that make Barlen's and Brunker's script an ultimately considerable misfire that would make the final product bad if it wasn't for the directorial efforts that, for the record, also have their own problems to worry about. I mean, the highlights in Brunker's efforts as director are certainly there, but lowlights are impossible to ignore, making cloying plays on anything from lame-brain writing to an unlistenable pop soundtrack that cleanse storytelling of subtlety, while overtly busy plays on momentum to plotting, though adequately entertaining, get to be frantic an obnoxious point. As you can imagine, this pacing freneticism's ironic fusion with laziness in most every other storytelling aspect reflects the trait that really drives this "effort" into frustrating: stupidity, which would be easier to forgive if the film wasn't too aware of its thinness to be inspired. Needless to say, there is just enough inspiration to the handling of this sometimes amusing, often adequately entertaining and consistently colorful family affair for the final product to evade contemptibility, but there's still a certain pretense of entertainment value surrounding this misguided mess that seems to talk down, not just to the youths, but to just about everyone, and while I can't promise that you'll be frustrated with this film to the point of out-and-out disliking it, I am more comfortable in assuring that this pseudo-effort is a challenge that offers nothing new and barely anything inspired, until finally sputtering out deep into mediocrity - nay - on the cusp of contemptibility.
When it's finally time to escape from this film, through solid animation and colorful highlights in action, voice acting, writing and direction, the final product just barely escapes collapse into all-out badness, but through a trite and thinly drawn story concept, lame-brain script and frantic direction, aggravating laziness is stressed enough to firmly secure "Escape from Planet Earth" as a mediocre misfire of a steaming pile of sci-fi family filler (Again, I don't quite hate it, but boy, I come close).
2/5 - Weak