Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Small Soldiers (1998) Review:

I don't quite follow director Joe Dante sometimes. Dante has been known for making parody films or versions of other films before. Piranha (1978) and Looney Tunes: Back In Action (2003) are a couple but what convinced Dante to make a version of Pixar's Toy Story (1995) into something not meant for children confuses me. Dante has a very creative mind yet it's weird that he would create a movie that pertains to children but isn't for them.

Small Soldiers is the story of two toy designers' dreams brought to reality; a deadly reality. The two designers, Irwin Wayfair (David Cross) and Larry Benson (Jay Mohr), have created their own action figures. One group is called the Commando Elite, a squad of military tactful individuals who pack quite a punch. The other group is the Gorgonites, a humble race of demonic looking creatures that have no intention of creating war. All they seek is to find their long lost home world, Gorgon.

Alan Abernathy (Smith) & his protective parents
The problem (in the plot) arises when one of the designers decides to implant an advanced military chip into the toys’ hardware. But how did he get the rights to obtain that chip? Isn't it top secret or something? Guess the screenwriters missed that loophole. Turns out, this was not the smartest move. Not to mention that their boss, Gil Mars (Denis Leary), wanted to have the Commando Elite programmed to destroy the Gorgonite creatures! It is from there that these toys were shipped to the Abernathy toy store where things start to get out of hand when the toys are activated. What a mess (in a good way)!

There's a small love story among the chaos that occurs through the story. The son of the Abernathy family, Alan (Gregory Smith), falls for his next door neighbor Christy Fimple (Kirsten Dunst). It's cute and makes the story slightly more amiable. The main attraction here though are the voice actors and action sequences.

Gorgonite leader, Archer (Frank Langella) &
Commando Elite leader, Major Chip Hazard  (Tommy Lee Jones)
The majority of the voice cast for the Commando Elite was taken from The Dirty Dozen (1967), with Ernest Borgnine as Kip Kiligan. The leader is Chip Hazard voiced by the recognizable Tommy Lee Jones who sounds perfect for the role. Frank Langella voices the character of Archer, the leader of the Gorgonites. Langella is good because he makes Archer sound noble and trustworthy. My favorite Gorgonite was Insaniac, a purple crazed-eye huge grinning fast-talking blabbermouth who spins around like Taz from Looney Tunes. This guy has too many funny lines. And who voiced him? None other than Michael McKean from Short Circuit 2 (1988).

Jerry Goldsmith composed the soundtrack for the movie and it sounds great as usual. It's hard to find a movie that Goldsmith doesn't produce good music to. What can be considered a turn-off is the action. I loved the action but for others it may be too violent or demented. Some people may associate it as being a dark toned Toy Story (1995) film and in this case, they're right. Some of the contents here are not for children because it really is...well violent.

Small Soldiers lives up to its name for having the action it says it has. However, it may be too violent for younger audiences. Besides this though, the music is good and so is the acting.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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