Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Spies in Disguise

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  "Spies" has the word "pies" in it.  I'm only saying that because I could really go for some pie right now.



Spies in Disguise – 4 out of 5

Social distancing is the name of the game right now.  People are encouraged to stay home in order to control the pandemic that is currently raging across the globe.  I’m an introvert who can’t afford a social life and a dating life has always been basically non-existent to me…so not much has changed for me during this (beyond the anxiety of getting sick).  I’m still watching movies and writing reviews that no one reads to pass the time when I’m not working or wallowing in self-loathing.  I’m a beam of sunshine, aren’t I?  Anyway, so much is hitting the digital market right now, whether it is stuff that was already on the schedule or theater films being released early in order to help entertain people and make some money back for the studios, so I have been watching a crazy amount of newer films.  Recently, I sat down with the animated Spies in Disguise and I really enjoyed it.  So much so that I desired to have my own little rhyme to sum up my feelings towards that love…but I’m not that creative so I got nothing except to say I enjoyed it.

He makes this look good.

Lance Sterling (Will Smith) is the best agent that the spy agency of H.T.U.V. (Honor, Trust, Unity and Valor) has but after encountering a terrorist with a cybernetic arm named Killian (Ben Mendelsohn), he finds his world turned upside down as he is accused of being a traitor.  Security forces agent Marcy Kappel (Rashida Jones) and her team go after Sterling as he flees from the agency and, in desperation, tracks down a weapons scientist named Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) from H.T.U.V. and whose ideas for non-violent weapons in the agency got him fired by the accused spy.  Sterling quickly takes advantage of a concoction made by Beckett that promises “biodynamic concealment” and, to his horror, learns the product turns him into a pigeon.  Now, as a bird, Sterling must work with Beckett in order to clear his name and bring Killian to justice.

He makes looking like a pigeon look good.
(Okay, that's my last reference to that quote from Men in Black.)

Spies in Disguise is a fun take on the spy film.  The idea of a spy being accidentally turned into a pigeon and is out to clear his name is completely bonkers and absurd but works so well.  However, there's no denying that it is super easy for something like this to go too overboard with the silliness but the story actually does a great job of knowing when and where to be goofy but also where to be heartfelt or exciting.  It rides the line very well.  Add in fun and interesting characters, unique designs, colorful visuals, and terrific animation and it resulted in a very entertaining feature.

All of them are literally looking for a car or statue to poop on.

Being this film centers on a spy it shouldn’t come as a surprise there will be action in it.  Spies in Disguise delivers on some truly fun action.  One of the ways it delivers this is due to the character of Walter Beckett and his desire to use non-violent weapons.  He has an arsenal of devices that are aimed at protecting the heroes and safely taking down the bad guys without harm, violence, or death.  These devices are used in very entertaining ways and help make the climax of the film both exciting and lots of fun.  Additionally, this non-violent approach made for some interesting exploration of the spy genre and the character of Beckett, who has a very good reason for this desire to protect instead of attack.

He invents non-violent weapons.  I'm just saying a helicopter backpack would be a non-violent.
Hell, it is not even a weapon.

The cast in the film is great.  Will Smith really nails the arrogant, loner spy who discovers the need for help and new ways of doing his job.  Tom Holland captures the geeky, awkward scientist who has a real underlying reason for his desire to have less violent means of spy work. Finally, Ben Mendelsohn is great as the story’s antagonist as he has the right amount of menace for the film’s tone.  Additionally, the film also has some great performances from the supporting cast thanks to Reba McEntire, Rashida Jones, Karen Gillan and DJ Khaled.

I think I could pull off the half-machine look.

Spies in Disguise was a bit of a surprise for me.  I wouldn’t say I had low expectations but it definitely was an animated product that felt like it could have been a touch on the generic side.  Ultimately, however, the film has a fun and creative story, the characters are great, the voice acting is tremendous, and the overall product looks fantastic.

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