Technologically stunning cartoon
filmfan09 - wrote on 03/17/09
Directed by Joe Dante, this movie is an action-comedy about talking toy accidentally enhanced with military microchips. After a defense industry corporation named Globotech takes over a small toy company, Heartland Play Systems', a ruthless corporate CEO (Dennis Leary) produces two lines of action figures requesting an upgrade to more realistic figures. The results are the Gorgonites who are peaceful aliens programmed to lose, and the Commando Elite is programmed to destroy them. Alan, the son of a failing toyshop owner, befriends the Gorgonites which causes the Commandos to perceive humans as another enemy, simply by their association with the "Gorgonite scum".
The film combines animatronics, puppetry, and computer animation. The special effects are amazing for it's time and integrated seamlessly with the live actors and sets. I also liked that the toys move like toys and not like fully animated characters. Best of all is the vocal casting The Commando Elite voices include surviving actors from Robert Aldrich's The Dirty Dozen (1967), while the Gorgonite voices reunited several This Is Spinal Tap (1983) cast members. With Tommy Lee Jones as the leader of the Commandos and Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) as the leader of the Gorgonites.
SMALL SOLDIERS is a very entertaining movie. The humor and allusions to other movies will keep you interested. But this movie contains a level of violence that would earn it an R rating if the toys weren't the victims. For a movie marketed to kids, I must say that this movie is too intense for small children to watch. I'll recommend it for older teens and adults. The "soldiers" of the title are ruthless killing machines in the body of dolls, who attack and terrorize the humans around them. Joe Dante's trademark dark comedy is overwhelmed by mean-spiritedness. The inhumanity and sheer hatefulness of the Commandos is more troublesome than the violence. This movie gives out the wrong message to kids, who would want to imitate the destructive ideas, such as making weapons out of household items and climbing a power pole to ruin a transformer.