G-Force 3D Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.40:1 1080p 3D transfer and is Region free.
G-Force was written, conceived and filmed in 2D, but four months into its production Disney decided they wanted 3D; but rather than film natively director Yeatman decided that to accurately portray his vision, for the sake of complexity and the fact that he wanted total control over the stereo image, he would continue to shoot 2D and use Sony Pictures Imageworks (who was already creating the CG for the film) to convert it, thus we have a bit of a hybrid between native 3D elements and a 2D conversion, which seems to be rather predominant at the moment. All of the CG elements are rendered in 3D whist the background plates and the live action footage is all converted. This makes for an odd watch as there are times when there are some pretty spectacular 3D effects, but the majority of the picture suffers from the inherent ‘false’ layering that all converts exhibit.
First the good; the guinea pigs themselves look amazing, their hair is of particular delight in its near ‘bouffant’ nature as it sticks out from their bodies giving instant volume, their eyes are inset, their noses stick out, to all intensive purposes these creations look real. When they are in pure GC environments there is a good definition of scale, and tangible distances between the layers, that themselves hold decent solidity. To add to the ‘action’ there is plenty of negative parallax, i.e. there is plenty of ‘in your face’ action from glass to debris to grappling wires to fireworks to water droplets. And in a neat trick (one that was developed for the theatres to give further enhancement ‘out of’ the screen) many of these CG elements actually extend beyond the frame and into the black bars! It’s a false reality, of course, and one that works to a certain degree, but I actually enjoyed the idea. Indeed the best effect of the film is when the guinea pigs, in their hamster balls, fly through a whole host of fireworks that are exploding into and out of the frame and bars.
Unfortunately it’s not all good news, because all of the converted material looks converted, there is simply no way to disguise it; this is made all the worse by the real looking GC elements that reside within the frame – so when a guinea pig is talking to a human the effect barely works as you have two very different looking parts of the film. The live action material lacks substance, solidity and depth. In fact the whole film lacks any decent depth into the picture, as many establishing shots are framed poorly with no thought to extreme foreground to hold the perspective; it's as if it was shot in 2D, oh wait it was. Some of the converted material can look ok, objects do display a modicum of volume, cars exhibit a front middle and back, the occupants do sit within it, but when compared to anything filmed natively it standout out as false. Though the biggest giveaway must be the people; an attempt has been made to give them dimensionality, i.e. noses stick out from faces, but due to our familiarity with faces we spot very easily false images and this is no exception.
Thankfully the rest of the picture is of reference standard and right out of a typical Bruckheimer production. Detail is excellent, holding edges well into the frame, skin, clothing weaves, hair, brickwork, sawdust, surface water, grass, everything has a finite edge that is absolute. Take a look at any of the scenes within G-Force’s lab for some excellent demos.
Colouring too is stunning with typically dripping gloss to all the primaries, especially blue and green which are both lush and deep. External shots are bright and bold showing no hint of wash or bleed. Flesh tones are given that deep ‘Californian’ tan look, again typical with Bruckheimer, which is a little overblown but looks ok within the confines of the film.
Brightness and contrast are slightly overblown to give the richness to the colour and deepen the backs to inky levels but still maintain enough integrity without slipping into crush and bloom. Blacks themselves are satisfyingly deep (with the usual 3D caveat) helping to add depth to the frame and contain some good shadow detail when needed.
Digitally there were no compression problems, though I did spot some very slight edge enhancement in one or two places, but banding and posterization are not an issue. Using passive technology I spotted only one or two areas of crosstalk and this was to the extreme negative parallax images, with the same technology bringing up a little aliasing on occasion.
Taken as a whole the image is quite spectacular, though in 3D space it does lack that natural spark, and since that is what we are here to discuss I have to mark accordingly, and go with a seven.
I concentrate on the English dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Any deficiency in the picture is made up for in the dynamic sound mix that accompanies the visuals, perhaps not as deep or as bombastic, nor even as detailed as the best out there, it is nevertheless more than capable of placing you in the centre of the room. Stereo effects are well separated and range from front to back as well as left to right; cars, swinging guinea pigs, fireworks are all represented well. Dialogue sounds very natural, is given a little directionality and is never in any danger of being drowned out by the action on screen. Surrounds pipe up adding plenty of ambience as well as other more direct effects, the attacking cockroaches spring to mind here. The score is given full reign over the speakers and it tries valiantly to inject enthusiasm in the film. Bass is decent enough and there are a few lightweight LF effects, but it is never in any danger of plumbing the depths associated with the best mixes. In all it’s very good and achieves its goal of enhancing the visuals.
- Cine-Explore – This is Disney’s version of the picture in picture commentary that plays throughout the movie, that can be played with or without interspersed behind the scenes featurettes which greatly increase the length of the piece. Director Hoyt Yeatman talks us through, incredibly enthusiastically, his creation right from the initial idea, through the creative process, to the finished production with the aid of hand drawn sketches, animatics and other animation styles to illustrate what he is talking about. The featurettes pause the main flow to expand upon a particular element in far greater detail. Two problems with this; firstly there is no way to access the featurettes outside of the cine-explore feature, which is a real shame. Secondly the narration is constantly being interrupted by Darwin and Blaster (in character) in a humorous attempt at lightening the mood – it fails at every turn and is just plain annoying.
- Blasters Boot Camp (04.41, HD) – An animated Blaster talks us through what it takes to be a spy guinea pig and explains the various bits of kit used through the film.
- G-Force Mastermind (04.13, HD) – We are introduced to Hoyt Yeatman junior, the director’s son who first came up with the idea of crime fighting/world saving guinea pigs .... enough said.
- Bruckheimer Animation (03.12, HD) – Bruckheimer and others discuss his other films that contain CG animation, from Pirates to Armageddon.
- Access Granted: Inside the Animation Lab (07.52, HD) – Yeatman guides us through Imageworks and explains some of the techniques used to bring the final film to fruition by following a few seconds of footage (Hurley dancing) from its basic animatic, through to animation, movement, lighting etc to final scene.
- G-Farce (01.49, SD/HD) – Extremely short section of bloopers, mostly focused around Zach Galifianakis.
- Deleted Scenes (06.17, SD) – Can be played individually or all together with the play all function. Six scenes which are mainly short (few second) extensions to scenes that already exist; none of which add any value; they are titled: March of Cockroaches, Mooch’s Doughnut Regime, B-B-Bunnies, Undercover Pets, Hurley Under Attack and World Domination.
- Music Videos (08.24, SD) – Can be played individually or all together with the play all function - Jump by Flo Rida, Ready to Rock by Steve Rushton's and Go G-Force by the guinea pigs.
- 2D Version – The film in its 2D form, contains all the extra material – please not although the 3D disc is Region free, this 2D disc is LOCKED to Region A.
- DVD – The film in its DVD form.
A decent enough set of extras even if they are not sure who that are aimed at; the very kiddie nature of everything, including the Cine-explore feature means few adults are going to want to watch them, but they are a little too heavy for a child to digest.
G-Force is a Bruckheimer and Disney produced kids film about spy guinea pigs that save the world. Despite its high production values and frantic pace there is very little substance to the film, character development is non-existent, there is precious little emotion and the non-stop action set pieces actually end up being boring as you don’t care about what’s going on. Superior voicing talent is pretty much wasted on a script that cares more about nothing other than getting to the next explosion. Frivolous and inoffensive it might be and if you’ve yet to reach double figures in age, you will probably get a thrill out of the nonsense, but to anyone else, there are far better films to take up your time.
As a 3D Blu-ray Disney have put together a decent enough package, the 3D picture is, unfortunately rather flat, but that is due to it being a convert rather than a natively filmed image, though the rest of the picture has the typical Bruckheimer production values; i.e. it is bold bright and dripping in gloss. As to the sound, well it more than makes up for any deficiencies in the picture, but it’s not quite up there with the best mixes available. Add to this a decent, albeit rather too kid friendly, enough extras package, a 2D disc and a DVD you have a future-proof buy.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £27.89
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