Escape From Planet Earth

Gary Supernova is an ace coordinator at Mission Control on the planet BAAB. His specialty is keeping his lunkheaded brother Scorch, the planet’s superhero-astronaut, from getting himself killed on dangerous missions. But when the most hazardous mission of all comes up—to the Dark Planet from which no one has ever returned—Gary doesn’t want his brother to risk it. Scorch takes the assignment anyway, and Gary refuses to help. But when Scorch gets captured on the Dark Planet and imprisoned in Area 51 along with other alien life forms, Gary comes to the rescue.

If you haven’t already figured it out from the film’s title, the Dark Planet is Earth. Yes, our heroes from BAAB are blue, and fall into the clutches of evil humans led by a maniacal general. Stop me if you’ve heard all this before. There’s even a video Gary calls up while researching the planned mission, explaining Earth’s dangerous and violent life forms.

But the bad-human, good-alien meme is easy to ignore and not heavy-handed. The emphasis here is on humor. But unfortunately adult Earthlings, looking for the qualities in Pixar or DreamWorks productions that keep them amused while their kidlings giggle, will be disappointed. Storywise, Escape from Planet Earth is slightly below the level of the similar Planet 51, with fewer chuckles than Hoodwinked. And science-fiction geeks who like their fiction leavened with a little science will also not be amused.

Fortunately, the film (an independent production from Rainmaker Entertainment and distributed by The Weinstein Company) is partially redeemed by good voice characterizations, including some I recognized immediately (Jane Lynch, of Glee and Wreck-it-Ralph) and some I didn’t (William Shatner, who had a small role in an obscure sci-fi franchise).

The most impressive quality of this release is the computer animation. While it lacks the textural refinement of Pixar and its major competitors, it’s clever, colorful, and beautifully rendered. The 2D transfer is flawless and beautifully detailed. The 3D is also superb—including pop-out effects—but the brighter 2D will be more impressive overall on anything short of the brightest 3D displays. Interestingly, the 2D disc in this set is 2.39:1, while the 3D is 1.85:1. Those with 2.35:1 screens (including me) will appreciate that. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is clean and crisp, but lacks the last bit of punch, dynamics, and deep bass that distinguish the best-animated soundtracks. But the overall mix is well-balanced and never sounds thin.

The extras include a commentary track, fully animated deleted and alternate scenes, two “Making of” featurettes, and a music video.

Blu-ray 4-Disc Edition (3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy+Ultraviolet)
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment, 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (2D); 1.85:1 (3D)
Audio Format: 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Length: 89 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Cal Brunker
Starring: Rob Corddry, Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker