3 out of 5 stars
James Bond is a spy and espionage icon that has gone on to influence literature, film and animation throughout history. He represents the undercover agent that manages to embody the best of this world of intrigue, ideally alone in the field. The tuxedo, the sports car, the martini and confidence have been modelled for decades in different ways in film and the newest version finds its way to cinemas as Lance Sterling (Will Smith).
Blue Sky Animation (Ice Age franchise) introduces the world to the latest super-spy who works to stop some of the worst villains in the world. After halting a top weapons deal in Japan, Lance reports back to headquarters and hopes to celebrate his mission. Upon arrival, he is surprised to be accused of stealing the high tech gadgets that the spy had kept from getting into the hands of the arms dealers. Sterling escapes from the agency and quickly realises that he cannot trust anyone there. Within minutes the support that the operative came to rely on was quickly turning against him. This forces him to turn to the very man who he had fired from the special gadgets division earlier in the day for help.
Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) is the antithesis of the top agent. Despite being a tech genius, he was awkward and had a penchant for getting on the wrong side of the team at the bureau. His gadgets were effective, but served to stop the violence as opposed to enacting pain on the enemy. As his only hope outside of the agency, Sterling was desperate to turn to the agency's brilliant outcast.
Upon arrival at Walter’s home, the spy stumbles on the scientist working on a bio-tech concoction that would make anyone ‘invisible’ to other humans. Unknowingly, Lance ingests the liquid which turns him into a pigeon. A form that makes the spy unnoticeable to humanity, but also leaving him unable to drive his car or run. Both men try to figure out how to reverse this transformation, while the agency's team attempt to bring them in. This leads to a mad capped and bizarre adventure where Walter and Lance work together to capture and expose the super-villain called Killian (Ben Mendelsohn) before he uses the weapon on the agency.
First-time directors, Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, bring us their retelling of the short film Pigeon: Impossible. A seemingly convoluted premise that ultimately works out in the end. Smith and Holland embody their animated alter-egos and the final product proves to be an entertaining option for families. The odd couple chemistry works throughout the film and provides some of the more endearing moments for this story.
It is the concept's originality that offers something to the world of animation. By turning the lead character into a pigeon, the filmmakers can explore a relatively new world of adventure. While the animation is straight-forward and does not break any new ground, it does meet modern standards and expectations. The antics of all of the characters will force audiences to rely on a suspension of disbelief afforded it by being an animated film. There are even humorous elements for the adults in the audience, which does mean it will struggle to engage the under-five crowd.
Spies in Disguise is one for all the older children who want a bit of action added to their animation and oppose the thought of going to Frozen 2. Even though there is enough glitter, cute kittens and pigeons to appeal to those with a softer disposition.
What did our team of junior reviewers say about this high flying espionage film? The feedback about the film was that those in the target audience (8-12 years) will like the originality, but this was a bit too mature for the little ones. The darker elements and the grown-up humour will make this less than appealing to those under the age of five. It also needs to be mentioned that the ‘tweens’ (Ages 11-12) might find the glitter bombs, cute kittens and inflatable hugs a bit uncool. Overall, these seasoned reviewers liked that it was an original story and thought it was enjoyable all the way through until the end.
Reel Dialogue: Being proud to be in the ‘Weird Club’
What does Spies in Disguise have in common with The Accountant?
They are divergent storylines and are intended for entirely different audiences. Still, both consider that we all have different abilities and skills. The gifts we have may seem odd to the outside world, dare it be said even, ‘Weird?’ Walter continually talks about how his had to deal with always being considered odd to others. By the end of both films, it could be said that there is something to celebrate about being different.
Looking at the Bible’s account of humanity, we are all made by and loved by God. These films and the Bible provide a different way to look at those with different ‘abilities.’
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14