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G-FORCE

SYNOPSIS:
Darwin (voice of Sam Rockwell) is the squad leader of G-Force, a small, top secret group of highly trained guinea pigs armed with the latest high-tech spy equipment, working in a secret government program. Other members of the team are Blaster (voice of Tracy Morgan), an outrageous weapons expert with attitude; the sexy, long-lashed martial arts pro Juarez (voice of Penelope Cruz); star-nosed computer-brains mole Speckles (voice of Nicolas Cage); and a reconnaissance-expert fly. The trouble is, Kip Killian (Will Arnett) and the rest of the FBI want to shut the unit that Dr Ben (Zach Galifianakis) and Marcie (Kelli Garner) have created. So G-Force has to prove itself in the field and acquire evidence against Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy), who is using his electronics company for evil intentions.

Review by Louise Keller:
Believe in yourself is the motto of this sweetly madcap and amusing family adventure in which talking guinea-pigs turn the world upside down in order to save it. The idea of using guinea-pigs was triggered by the 5 year old son of director Hoyt Yeatman, who took the concept to a higher level by grounding it and seamlessly integrating animation, digital 3D and live action. Youngsters will delight in watching furry rodents in their undercover roles, scampering at high speed in precarious situations, as if they were Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies. The storyline may be beyond them however. Much of the dialogue seems to be angled at an older audience - like 'Leave no rodent behind' or the high-tech themes. Nonetheless, there is a lot of fun and enjoyment to be had, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer even throws in a giant transformers sequence for good measure.

When we first meet the members of G-Force, they are planning a daring infiltration of the headquarters of electronics company head Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy in a restrained mode). Scriptwriters Cormac & Marianne Wibberley have incorporated a rationale for the guinea-pigs to be able to talk and be understood: they are wearing headsets. Of course, I hear you say.... Keen to prove themselves in the field, the rodents, lead by Darwin (voice of Sam Rockwell) throw everything into the operation including mini-parachutes, skateboards, tyres, mobile rolling units. The action is nicely countered by the characterisations and each rodent has its own personality (natch). The flirtatious Juarez (voice of Penelope Cruz) is a bit of a scene stealer using reverse psychology for the lovesick Darwin and Blaster (voice of Tracy Morgan). 'I look like Paris Hilton's Chihuahua' she complains when acquired by an overzealous child who paints her claws, smudges lipstick on her and puts her in a dress. Bucky, the cake-loving hamster who yearns for a family (voice of Steve Buscemi) also snares his share of the limelight.

The execution is inventive and the cast works well. If the young audience gets lost in the plotlines, it probably doesn't matter much - there's plenty of exciting visuals to keep everyone engaged. At 88 minutes, it's fast-paced, bright entertainment that can be enjoyed on several levels.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

G-FORCE (PG)
(US, 2009)

CAST: Bill Nighy, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Kelli Garner

VOICES: Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Penelope Cruz, Tracy Morgan, Jon Favreau, Steve Buscemi

PRODUCER: Jerry Bruckheimer

DIRECTOR: Hoyt Yeatman

SCRIPT: Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bojan Bazelli

EDITOR: Mark Goldblatt, Jason Hellmann, Bud S. Smith, M. Scott Smith

MUSIC: Trevor Rabin

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Deborah Evans

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: VIC/QLD: September 17, 2009; SA/WA: September 24, 2009; NSW: October 1, 2009







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