Celebrity Interview & Review: G-Force,From Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Animation At Its Finest

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“G-Force”, a soon-to-be released 3-D animated spy thriller, from Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films was recently previewed for the World Media at AMC Empire Theaters in New York City.

 

Creating the perfect film preview Disney provided the press with movie goodies and followed the next day with a press brunch preceding the press conference and lunch after at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Central Park South.

The film which was created in both 3-D and 2-D is the story of a secret government commando team, “G-Force”, lead by the Intelligence Operative Darwin, a Guinea Pig. The voice talent of Sam Rockwell provides the emotional through line throughout the film to project a consummate operative team leader.

The Agent Operatives consists of the usual misfits brought together for their special skills, think Mission Impossible, “The A-Team” and “True Lies.” The combination of character development, voice talent and animation which is flawless, provides a fun, action packed, satirical look at our contemporary intelligence gathering techniques and community.

The original idea for “G-Force” was the gift of a child’s imagination. According to “G-Force” director Hoyt Yeatman, “My son, who was five at the time, brought home the class guinea pig from pre-school and put this animal on the table and went through the whole story of how the guinea pig would wear helmets and backpacks and literally save the world.” His son, who attended the private media screening, is now eleven and was given credit for the film.

The advances in animation capabilities, that leap frog daily, are masterfully crafted and the 3-D effects and I must admit I did sit throughout the entire film wearing the 3-D geek glasses, created a desire in the director, “to pour the film into the audience.” And he did.

From the moment the Disney Enchanted Castle with Tinkerbelle flying arc and fireworks exploded on screen, a trademark that hasn’t changed in generations, appeared the World of Disney became alive and new with a feel of watching fireworks explode in the “sky” of the theater.

The film opens with the human operative, Special Agent Dr. Ben Kendall, played by actor and comedian Zach Galfinianakis, explaining to Darwin, the “G-Force” leader, that the program is being disbanded due its inability to extract information from the appliance king Leonard Saber, played by British actor, Bill Nighy, who according to all available intelligence is really the mastermind of a world terrorist plot.

In order to keep the program fully funded the team must gather the information before the Feds show to shut it down. Introducing the team, the film moves to on-site recon gathering in action as we see Speckles, the mole, brought to life through the voice talent of Nicolas Cage, who was recruited for his underground technical expertise; the silky seductive voice of Juarez, provided by Penelope Cruz, a Guinea Pig that understands both men and martial arts and has a penchant for Darwin while being wooed by her partner, Blaster, who is the rock-n-roll, no holds barred, they won’t take us alive, team member brought to life beautifully by Tracy Morgan.

The team arrives at the scene of Leonard Saber’s home, Blaster and Juarez arrive via underwater transport, Speckles is working his computer magic overriding the security system via an underground tunnel and Darwin, the lead, moves through the perimeter facing Doberman’s and other security measures.

Arriving at his destination, they enlist much needed air surveillance and an un-credited fourth member of the team, Mooch, shows up as the “eyes in the sky.”  Providing air to ground support and interference, Mooch moves the team through Leonard Saber’s home to the computer.

The animation and human element are mixed throughout the film. The party scenes at the Saber mansion are filled with virtual reality cyber advances that include military night vision effects used to project air suspended presentation canvases that contain illustrations of home appliances and Saber’s business plan. The scene is very futuristic and worth noting.

The team, aware that any moment their existence could be discovered, is highly skilled and trained for all possibilities. The information to save the “G-Force” program must be downloaded. Bypassing a variety of passwords, Speckles overrides the system and the stalled computer awakens and proceeds to advance through a series of synchronized elements. The data reveals a much more diabolical plot, and recognizing the urgency for recon, Darwin downloads the program.

The suspense heightens at this point with additional interruptions ending with the team being overcome by rodent gas. They escape, barely, and what follows is a Guinea Pig’s nightmare that has them shut down, caged in rodent hell with a crazed pet store loon, bought, disbanded, dealing with a man down and chased by the feds.

The “G-Force” is finally reunited after following a trail that leads them to the truth of their lineage, the significance of each other and the discovery of the true meaning of family. They find within themselves, which is the overall message of the film, the strength to overcome obstacles, deal with difficult circumstances and discover love comes when and how you least expect it.

The next day I had a chance to be a part of the world press coverage at the New York City Ritz Carlton Hotel as Nicolas Cage, Tracy Morgan, Zack Galfinianakis, Bill Nighy, Director Hoyt Yeatman and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer answered questions from the various invited international media.

The cast, producer and director were open and available for all questions and the media stayed on point without any deviations into celebrity fodder or other types of intrusive questioning. The questions ranged from the comical, “How did you get in touch with your inner mole?” to the more serious elements associated with the process of animation film making.

Sitting first chair front row and given ample opportunity to ask questions I focused on the process, the creative approach and directed to Hoyt Yeatman, the film’s director.

Janet Walker: How long did the film take from the moment of concept to completion?
Hoyt Yeatman: The concept to completion was about six years. Actually, in production we were working for two years. In the beginning was the idea of coming up with the concept, developing it; I developed that prior to coming to Jerry [Bruckheimer]. We had the story line and all the character designs and actually once we had it illustrated and we knew what the technical’s looked like then we went to Jerry.

JW: How did you come up with Household Appliances as Transformers?
HY: I thought if you were four inch mole and you wanted to take over the world how would you do it? You would have had to build the largest mechanized army and if you done that then where would you put them? The idea was to put them in plain sight and so the idea of appliances’ coming to life was the best way to create the idea.

JW: When the process is going without animation there are repeated takes and you bring the film together through editing and sometimes you have to do take after take after take. With the animation how does that process work? Do you do the repeated takes until you find the right amount of feeling or emphasis that you’re looking for and how do you bring that together?

HY: It’s kind of a strange process. Again, unlike a completely virtual movie you have to make both a live action and an animated movie. With the live action essentially you shoot it and you get the performance that you like from the live side and you work with puppets and out of focused backgrounds and that’s what’s kind of tough for the studios. They watched for probably over a year an out-of-focused movie with stuffed toys and they wonder what you’re doing.

After that, then in animation you look at the other half and then you begin to craft that side of the process and on “G-Force” we’re using a number of virtual effects that are completely synthetic that look totally real. So depending on what I need to do from a directorial standpoint I chose which technique to use and many of the sequences that you see are constantly moving back and forth between real place and virtual.

The film opens July 24, 2009 and is summer fun for everyone and a sure hit for Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Hoyt Yeatman and the cast of “G-Force”.

For more information on “G-Force”: http://disney.go.com/index

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