Blue Sky Studios are back, now under control of The House Of Mouse as part of the 20th Century Fox acquisition and the much delayed movie about a spy who is turned into a pigeon is finally here. While it is the oddest premise since Dreamwork’s Boss Baby movie, this story is largely derivitive and is basically Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs but instead of food it’s a spy movie. While the animation is beautiful and the cast offer great voice performances, it isn’t enough to save the movie from being extremely lacklustre that uses all the tricks in the animated family movie book that make this a film you can skip.
The story revolves around the world’s greatest spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) who is unwittingly teamed up with intern inventor Walter (Tom Holland) on a trip around the world to stop evil mastermind Killian (Ben Mendelson) who is attempting to destroy the spy agency and take down Sterling for good. Things don’t go according to plan as Sterling unknowingly drinks a concution that turns him into a pigeon. The rest of the movie is spent trying to stop Killian and turn Sterling back into a human.
I mentioned before that this film is a cheesy Cloudy rip-off with the eccentric inventor using non violent methods to solve situations with glitter and cute kittens. While this did irk me, it also hurt that the jokes were extremtly juvenile and while may amuse children (and the immature) it really hurts the film. Looking outside of the story and humour, the visuals in this film are famtastic. It is a massive leap forward for Blue Sky studio with some truly incredible scenes as the characters travel around the world. There is a scene in Paris where you truly believe the background is real.
The characters are animated beatifully and their designs are miles above anything that Blue Sky has done before, even down to the water, it looks incredibly realistic. The many gadgets and cars are very well detailed and even include some eye-roll inducing product placement. The action scenes and design from Ice Age veterans Troy Quane and Nick Bruno keep things moving at a decent pace and while this is their first attempt at a feature film, the jokes don’t always land with kids and adults, it is generally one or the other.
Spies In Disguise will be suitable for ages 6 + up until early teens, the action and animation are spectacular and it is amplified by an incredible soundtrack from Mark Ronson (it really is the best part of the movie!) It is also interesting to note that Ronson does voice a character in the movie. Spies In Disguise is the first animated release of 2020 and is a great school holiday treat.
Spies In Disguise releases on January 1, 2020.
Review by Alaisdair Leith