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Featured DVD Review: Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back

September 29th, 2010

Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back - Buy from Amazon: Regular DVD or 3D DVD

When I first heard they were making a Space Chimps 2, my initial thought was, "Space Chimps made enough money to justify a sequel?" I don't think it did, not even a direct-to-DVD sequel. Also, the first film's reviews didn't exactly suggest the follow-up would be high calibre either. That said, was the film able to match admittedly low expectations? Perhaps even become a pleasant surprise?

The Movie

Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back follows the events of the first film. After Ham, Luna, and Titan return to Earth, they are treated as heros in the media, much to the delight of Ham. However, they are not the only ones who came back from Malgor, as Zartog was stuck on the returning ship and falls to Earth as they land, but he's still encased in freznar, so he won't be able to cause any problems.

This time around the focus of the movie switches to Comet, the tech genius from the first movie that helped the crew, but did it from Earth. He's training hard so that he will be on the return trip to Malgor. He desperately wants to go, partially for the adventure, but also to meet Kilowatt, the friendly alien the crew met last time and who has become friends with Comet in the meantime. Unfortunately, Comet is cut from the mission due to budget constraints. The rest of the monkey astronauts are not as caring about his plight, so he heads off to be alone, hacking into the rocket just to pretend he's going. He's really good at pretending, so good that the computer mistakenly thinks he's given the order to launch, and away he goes. Since he's been training so hard, he's actually able to make it to Malgor and it is a paradise; it's better than he expected. But there's trouble back on Earth. It turns out the rocket taking off unfroze Zartog and now he's off to conquer Earth, which he thinks is ruled by Ham. Now Comet and the rest of the monkeys have to figure out a away to get Comet while protecting the Earth from the invader.

Space Chimps came out during the middle of summer, which is an excellent time of year to release a film like this. However, when it came out, WALL-E was still in theaters and the comparison killed the movie. WALL-E was Oscar worthy, while Space Chimps was not. With that in mind, I wasn't expecting a lot from the sequel.

Sadly, my expectations were not low enough. The first thing I noticed was the animation, which looked incredibly cheap. I've reviewed Saturday morning kids shows with better computer animation that this. There's little to no texture, the movements are stilted, there's no detail, and the world feels empty. Every object that appears on screen has to be created and rendered, which takes time and money, and apparently the filmmakers didn't have enough of either to get the film to look right.

I wouldn't have been bothered by the look if the story was strong, but the movie fails here as well. The plot is undeveloped and feels padded just to last the 70-minute running time. Jokes are recycled from the first movie, and repeated a number of times during this movie. There's some attempts at slapstick-type humor that might entertain younger kids, much younger kids, but there are far to many alternatives to bother with this film.

There is also a 3D version of the movie released, which I didn't get a copy of to review. However, I did pay attention to the movie for action scenes that would take advantage of the additional dimension, and there are plenty of them. But even so, I don't think the movie is worth spending money on.

The Extras

There are only two extras on the DVD, both involve music. There's a music video by a band called Shada (never heard of them either) and an alternative take of Jagu's dance. Considered smooth movements are not the forte of this film, this is not really a selling point.

The Verdict

The direct-to-DVD marketplace is fill with unnecessary sequels, and unfortunately, that's exactly what Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back is. The plot is thin, the jokes are weak, the animation looks cheap, and the running time is short for a feature-length film, but still too long for most kids to sit through. In short, even if you are a fan of the Space Chimps, this one is probably not worth spending any of your money on.

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