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Escape from Planet Earth: 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet Review

Escape from Planet Earth (2013) movie poster Escape from Planet Earth

Theatrical Release: February 15, 2013 / Running Time: 89 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Cal Brunker / Writers: Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker (screenplay); Stephen Fry, Dan Mazer, David Javerbaum (additional writing); Tony Leech, Cory Edwards (story)

Voice Cast: Rob Corddry (Gary Supernova), Brendan Fraser (Scorch Supernova), Sarah Jessica Parker (Kira Supernova), William Shatner (General William T. Shanker), Jessica Alba (Lena Thackleman), Jane Lynch (Io), Craig Robinson (Doc), George Lopez (Thurman), Sofia Vergara (Gabby Babblebrock), Steve Zahn (Hawk), Chris Parnell (Hammer), Jonathan Morgan Heit (Kip Supernova), Ricky Gervais (Mr. James Bing), Paul Scheer (Cameraman)

Buy Escape from Planet Earth from Amazon.com: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet • DVD • Instant Video

It isn't too hard to keep track of the major active animated film studios, because each has a wide reach, a distinct brand, a signature franchise, and a prominent presence during the busiest moviegoing seasons.
A small handful of power players are responsible for most of the computer animation released to theaters to reliable success. Then, every once in a while, we get a film from a smaller, less established animation house. Escape from Planet Earth is one such movie.

Distributed by ordinarily prestige-driven The Weinstein Company in the United States, Escape is the biggest film to date produced by Vancouver-based Rainmaker Entertainment. If the Canadian studio, formerly known as Mainframe Entertainment, is familiar to you, it is by Universal's biannual direct-to-video Barbie films, from 2001's Barbie in The Nutcracker through last September's The Princess and the Popstar. Those movies are evidently very profitable, but they look like the bottom rung in children's entertainment to someone who has only seen some of their trailers.

Escape from Planet Earth is a sure step up from that impression, but still stands as the most generic CG-animated family comedy we've seen in a while. It is the kind of cookie cutter production that peaked in 2006 and faded shortly after once the medium wasn't enough to guarantee profit. Appropriately enough, this project was announced as a Weinstein Company acquisition back in February 2006, mere weeks after Hoodwinked had become the young spin-off studio's first hit. In the seven years it took Escape to reach theaters, Weinstein had released only two additional animated films (Doogal and the untimely Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil), each an ignoble off-season flop. Escape would buck that trend and low expectations to gross $56 million domestically, a fairly respectable sum for a $40 M film and slight improvement over the original Hoodwinked, though the gains were partly offset by a nasty high-profile, confidentially settled lawsuit comparing executives Bob and Harvey Weinstein to The Producers' Bialystock and Bloom.

Aliens Thurman, Gary Supernova, Scorch Supernova, Io, and Doc are looking to "Escape from Planet Earth" in this 2013 computer animated comedy.

It's tough to believe passions could flare over a family comedy as inoffensive and routine as Escape from Planet Earth. The film opens on a planet called Baab. There, Gary Supernova (voiced by Rob Corddry) is a cautious but brilliant mission controller who gets none of the credit for the heroics carried out under his supervision by his astronaut younger brother Scorch (Brendan Fraser). Dim-witted but beloved, the corporately-sponsored Scorch is idolized by many, including Gary's young son Kip (Jonathan Morgan Heit).

Hastily setting out on his next adventure, the fearless Scorch takes off for the Dark Planet, also known as Earth, a place from which no alien has returned alive. Once Scorch goes missing, Gary journeys to find him, crash-landing in Area 51, narrowly avoiding his aircraft's self-destruction and being apprehended outside a 7-Eleven. Like Scorch, Gary winds up in the custody of William T. Shanker (William Shatner), an arrogant U.S. army general who imprisons intelligent aliens and exploits their brilliant ideas. You see, although humans have taken the credit, it is aliens who have invented things like search engines, social networks, and computer animation. At the advice of his sympathetic fellow prisoners, a small but diverse mix of slimy, fuzzy, and scaly characters voiced by the likes of Jane Lynch, Craig Robinson, and George Lopez, Gary fears that equipping Shanker with the most powerful weapon in the universe may be the only way to earn freedom for Gary and his brother.

The conflict isn't resolved so easily, of course. Meanwhile, Kip and Gary's wife (Sarah Jessica Parker) also become involved and endangered by an unlikely association.

Brain freeze is inevitable for Gary Supernova after he chugs a 7-Eleven Slurpee. On Baab, young Kip and his mother Kira figure out how to bust out of their own captivity: blast tape.

Rainmaker seemingly had twice as much time to work on this as what Pixar pours into one of their films, which makes it pretty tough to excuse or defend Escape's flagrant mediocrity. It's all very standard and, if you're so inclined, derivative. The pointy-eared blue alien race in the foreground bears more than a little resemblance to Megamind, while their trials are like Monsters vs. Aliens with less B-movie homage and snarkasm. Some of Escape's gags register as mildly diverting, like a Slurpee brain freeze whose product placement seems forgivable.
Most of the jokes don't even aim for a laugh, settling for a captive audience and some smiles. When you consider the limitless possibilities of animation, it is shocking how much overlap there is in the tone and content of the films being released, even if a new cartoon movie is unveiled practically monthly. Escape can't be seriously accused of plagiarism, but it's more guilty of that than originality.

Perhaps there is some credence to the claims made by the film's original writer-director Tony Leech (Hoodwinked) of an egregiously mismanaged production, although it's unclear why the Weinsteins would want an acquisition with rare commercial potential to flounder. Still, the movie has the feel of something that's been on the shelf a while, as it makes a Simon Cowell joke but not any Twitter ones. It's not a bad movie, just a forgettable one that asks original pop and dance songs to set the mood at every opportunity and assembles a voice cast out of the most famous actors around who aren't above making mediocre family films.

Weinstein home video partner Anchor Bay Entertainment brings Escape from Planet Earth to home video today in a single-disc DVD and, this review's subject, a four-disc Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet combo pack.

Escape from Planet Earth: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.39:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray 3D & Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Video Extras Subtitled in English; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Four single-sided discs (2 BD-50s, 1 DVD-9 & 1 DVD-5 DVD-ROM)
Wide Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


There's no easy way for a digital film like this to make it to home video with anything other than perfection. Thus, the film looks its very best, appearing in 2.39:1 across each format (though the case wrongly claims the Blu-ray 3D as 1.85:1). The visuals aren't as breathtaking as those of the industry's leaders, but they are just fine and are reproduced with all the clarity, precision, and vibrancy of 1080p. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is also a treat, full of noticeable directional effects and suitable atmosphere.

For once, Rob Corddry gets to play the lead of a film. Alas, it is the animated film "Escape from Planet Earth." An unused line by Jane Lynch as Io is preserved in the fully-animated Alternate Takes & Deleted Scenes reel.


The extras, which are the same on both the standard Blu-ray and DVD, begin with an audio commentary by replacement director Cal Brunker. Speaking with the excitement of a first-timer and with few lulls, Brunker discusses making his directorial debut on a 3-week trial basis, doing a Page One rewrite,
a deleted character, and the thinking behind the different shots and segments of the film (acknowledging collaborator contributions). It's not a bad listen, especially for a solo track, but you'd likely be more captivated by the 60-page summons in the original filmmakers' lawsuit against the Weinsteins, which connects this production to the unrealized Fraggle Rock film, M&M's eaten off the floor, Buzz Lightyear, and Kevin Bacon.

Kicking off the video side (all-HD on Blu-ray), "The Making of Escape from Planet Earth" (21:15) is as standard as it sounds, but longer and less revealing. It shows off the celebrity voice cast, having them describe the plot and their characters. Rather than attempting to sugar-coat the touchy production, the featurette relies heavily on footage of actors recording their lines, composer Aaron Zigman sharing his thoughts and some piano on his scoring process, and even interviewing musicians who contributed songs. It's terribly promotional and shallow for being able to fill a half-hour of airtime.

"Alternate Takes & Deleted Scenes" (3:53) is a reel of brief unused moments, all of them strangely fully animated.

As director Cal Brunker explains, animated movies go through a number of stages, including some not even covered here. Piano music by Owl City's Adam Young affects the street lights of this unidentified city in the "Shooting Star" music video.

"How to Make an Animated Feature with Director Cal Brunker" (3:43) briefly runs us through the different stages an animated film goes through with demonstrations and Brunker remarks.

The final three extras fall under the heading Music Featurettes. Owl City's "Shooting Star" music video (4:15) alternates between film clips and Adam Young singing and playing piano in the shadows of a city night. Thoughts from Delta Rae band members segue into a performance of their "What Matters Most" (4:03), which cuts away from clips only for recording studio footage. Then, Australian teen pop star Cody Simpson talks about the movie when he isn't taking his tank top into the studio to record "Shine Supernova" (2:44).

Wondering what teenaged Australian pop star Cody Simpson thinks of "Escape from Planet Earth"? Wonder no more! Bald villain General William T. Shanker appears in the DVD's version of the main menu, which could use some Ricky Gervais quips.

The discs open with menu-inaccessible trailers for Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. Can you tell that The Weinstein Company doesn't make many family films?
Unfortunately, Escape's own trailer is not included.

The menu predictably plays clips while employing an interface resembling the Ricky Gervais-voiced one from the film. The Blu-rays' authoring leaves something to be desired, as the first two discs do not support bookmarks or resume playback.

The four discs occupy two swinging trays inside a thicker than usual keepcase that's topped by, rare for an Anchor Bay Blu-ray, an embossed slipcover. One insert provides your codes for the complimentary iTunes digital copy (which uses a featherweight DVD-ROM disc) and UltraViolet. A second insert offers $2 off the DVD and Blu-ray releases of Spy Kids 4, Hoodwinked Too!, Touchback, and Chuggington Safari Adventures.

Gary Supernova interrupts a live interview by BNN's Gabby Babblebrock of his brother Scorch to express concerns about his hastily-planned trip to the Dark Planet.


Escape from Planet Earth is light, familiar, and forgettable family entertainment. That puts it at the low end among today's reliably satisfying, usually ambitious CG cartoons, but it's an effort viewers of any age probably won't strongly regret seeing.

Anchor Bay's combo pack covers all conceivable bases with okay extras and a terrific feature presentation. While it's doubtful you'll make use of this film on all five of the provided formats, they add up to a decent value and should meet the expectations of anyone who enjoys the movie or think they will.

Buy Escape from Planet Earth from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New: Dark Skies • Warm Bodies • Identity Thief • Howl's Moving Castle • Beautiful Creatures
Escape's Voice Cast: The Smurfs • Inkheart • Journey to the Center of the Earth • Unaccompanied Minors • Mr. Troop Mom
Sci-Fi Animation: Planet 51 • Megamind • Mars Needs Moms • WALL•E • Meet the Robinsons
Small Studio Productions: Valiant • Gnomeo & Juliet • Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil • Adventures in Zambezia
Recent Computer Animation: Arthur Christmas • Prep & Landing • Rise of the Guardians • Wreck-It Ralph

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Reviewed June 4, 2013.

Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 The Weinstein Company, Kaleidoscope-TWC, GRF Productions, Rainmaker Entertainment, The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment,
and Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.