Fly Me to the Moon 3D Review
If Igor is an also-ran in the field of animated movies, then Fly Me To The Moon isn't actually on the field. It's back in the dressing room warming up the post-match bath. Or sorting out the home and away strips. In fact, it's anywhere but on the field, perhaps even nursing a beer at a local tavern and saying to anyone who'll listen that it could have been a contender. It could have been better animated. It could have been funnier. It could have had style. But it has none of those things, choosing, instead, a dull story of flies sneaking their way on board Apollo 11 to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the moon. It's stiff enough for the creases to show through and for the smell of starch to remain about it. And that's one of the more pleasant smells that one could use to describe it.
Opening with the obvious musical number, Fly Me To The Moon is the story of Nat (Trevor Gagnon), a young fly whose head is turned by the adventure stories told to him by his Grandpa (Christopher Lloyd). Hearing how his Grandpa rescued Amelia Earhart for the hundred-and-first time, Nat dreams of taking to the skies on his own. Which is not a very difficult thing for a fly...but Nat wants to go higher. He wants to fly in a plane or, better yet, in a rocket into space. Fate has found a way of making his dream come true. While some may bemoan living so close to Cape Canaveral, Nat and his friends are not amongst them. With Scooter and IQ (David Gore and Philip Daniel Bolden), they sneak into the lunchbox of a NASA employee and, from there, into the Saturn V rocket that's carrying the astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. And to the moon they go. But back on Earth, some Russian flies are unhappy at the march that the American astro-flies have stolen on them. Yegor (Tim Curry) plans on destroying the Americans but Grandpa, old flame Nadia (Nicolette Sheridan) and rest of the flies set out to bring Nat, Scooter, IQ, not to mention Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong, back home safely.
One of the things that's best about Neil Armstrong is his avoidance of the limelight soon after his return to Earth. Whatever he does now - tend to his garden, whittle old bits of wood or ensuring that Mr Gorsky remains a very happy man - he can at least say that his not appearing on film or television has led to his not having anything to do with Fly Me To The Moon. The same can't be said of Buzz Aldrin. Buzz appears in the end credits to Fly Me To The Moon to tell us that no flies (or contaminants as he puts it) could ever have made it onto the Apollo 11 mission. You don't say, Buzz! Those adults watching the movie are liable to think, as I did, that the producers of this film must have had quite something on Buzz Aldrin to force him into appearing in such a hopeless cameo while those children who actually bought into this movie might be reduced to tears by this man telling them that it never happened. It's not quite Tim Allen appearing at the end of The Santa Clause to explain that there's no Santa but it's along the same lines. So well done Buzz and nWave Pictures for making a child somewhere in the world cry!
Still, Buzz Aldrin's cameo isn't the worst thing about Fly Me To The Moon. It's not the animation either, which, though not very good, is on a par with that of Dreamworks around Antz or Pixar on A Bug's Life. Although that carries its own criticism given that Fly Me To The Moon is really no better-looking than a couple of films from 1998. No, despite stiff competition, it's the quality of the voice acting that lets Fly Me To The Moon down. It's with Nat, IQ and Scooter that we spend most of our time and while no one should expect that they were together in the same recording studio, they could at least sound as though they were in the same film. Instead of there being any interaction between them, we have three children reciting their lines as though in isolation. Any one line has barely any connection to another. If the BBC can do better with Charlie And Lola and do so with children younger than these, one would have thought the producers of Fly Me To The Moon could have done better.
That's not all, though. There are cameos from various animated characters who are given enough screen time to suggest they have some point but I'll be damned if I know what it is. There's a lot of padding in the film, which, though it serves the 3D version of the movie well, was just as easily removed for the IMAX edit. And while the astronauts do eventually notice the flies on board their ship, they decide to leave them well enough alone. "After all, they're American flies!" they say, which is cheesy enough to have the smell of Roquefort wafting from the television. Still, the Russian flies are entertaining enough, although they don't enjoy quite as much screen time as one might hope for. Very young children may be able to look beyond all of this but there's little here either for adults or for older children. And nothing for anyone who, by the fact of his walking on the moon, has some respect for Buzz Aldrin.
There are moments when this doesn't look at all bad. To be fair to Fly Me To The Moon, there's actually very little on the screen at times and, as mentioned earlier, the quality of the animation isn't on a par with the latest from the mainstream Hollywood studios but the picture is clear, with colours fairly well presented and with a noticeable amount of detail. There are some notable moments, such as the lakeside shack under which the flies host both a birthday party and a ticker-tape parade and the in-space scenes look very good but it is, on the whole, merely alright. The DD5.1 audio track is no different. It sounds fine with the best of Fly Me To The Moon coming with the launch of Apollo 11 and, later, it's return to Earth. Finally, there are English subtitles.
There are two bonus features. The first of these is a Planetarium game that prompts the viewer with questions related to either our own solar system or a handful of constellations. The questions are simple enough to anyone with a basic knowledge of the universe and should capture the interest of children with a scientific bent. The other feature is a 3D Version of the movie and this is reasonable enough. How much one appreciates a 3D film will depend on the colour settings of the television on which it is viewed and how willing the viewer is to go along with an experience that can make one's eyes feel as though they have been tumble-dried but this is actually pretty good. The effect does fall apart the closer the action gets to the foreground but the Going Up The Country-themed fly through the undergrowth is one part of the movie where it all comes together, as are the lift-offs from Earth and from the Moon. Younger children are, though, unlikely to be willing to wear a pair of glasses for the entire movie and may do irreparable damage to their eyesight by viewing it glasses-less.