Fly Me To The Moon (U)



Family (2008)
84mins UK

Starring: Trevor Gagnon, David Gore, Philip Daniel Bolden, Kelly Ripa, Christopher Lloyd, Nicollette Sheridan, Tim Curry, Ed Begley Jr
Director: Ben Stassen
Writer(s): Domonic Paris
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

In the sweltering summer of May 1969, intrepid housefly Nat and his best friends Scooter and IQ yearn for excitement. Inspired by his globetrotting grandpa, Nat encourages Scooter and IQ to join him on the voyage of a lifetime by hitching a ride inside the helmets of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Nat's mother discovers the plan too late - "Oh my lord of the flies, they are going to the moon!" - and like the rest of the world, she witnesses history in the making. However, once Russian insects discover America's triumph, they dispatch operative Yegor to sabotage mission control, ensuring Nat, Scooter and IQ never make it back to terra firma.

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LondonNet Film Review by Peter Clee
Fly Me To The Moon

Three flies hop aboard the Apollo 11 space flight to become the first insects on the moon in this strictly-for-the-kids 3D animated feature...

Fly Me to the Moon. Momentum Pictures.Young housefly Nat persuades his friends Scooter and IQ to infiltrate mission control and hitch a lift into space. With a little help and encouragement from his Grandpa (Christopher Lloyd), the plucky threesome joins astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin (who makes a real-life appearance in the film) and Michael Collins on the inaugural lunar mission.

The film fuses nuggets of historical fact with a series of child-friendly sub-plots, including a highly stereotyped ring of Soviet spy-flies seeking to thwart the American's triumphant return to Earth. Accompanying adults are treated to less of the nudge-nudge senior humour we've come to expect from animated films such as Shrek and Ratatouille, as the jokes are firmly for the under-tens. Not that the minors will notice of course; belching and farting will do fine for them. For the oldies, the strong 60s soundtrack will keep you grooving between the very effective 3D space shots.

Director Ben Stassen has strong views about the 3D creative environment: "When making a 3D film, I don't want to use the screen as a window, but rather as a space. Most 3D film released to-date use the screen as a window. The filmmaker creates perspective behind the window and throws things at the audience thorough the window."

"When you eliminate the window effect (by shooting with parallel camera instead of converging cameras), you create a 3D space and you can actually transport the audience into that space. This is a major distinction in the way you position the viewer. Having flies as main characters enable us to explore this approach in ways we were never able to achieve before. With much less direct interaction with their environment, they fly around a lot and so does the camera."

As a teaser flick to get the youngsters among us up to speed on the basics of the first lunar mission, Fly Me To The Moon works well enough, despite the rather clunky script. The graphics however even with 3D trickery - feel below par compared to recent benchmarks such as Kung Fu Panda. If your kids do get the space bug though, you'd be as well taking them back to your nearest IMAX theatre to see some of the real-life Apollo and Space Shuttle features on frequent presentation.

Screening Note: Fly Me To The Moon will feature heavily in the BFI Imax schedule. If you've yet to visit this wonder of Waterloo, this may be a good chance as Europe's largest screen offers the best vantage point to enjoy the 3D effects in their full glory.

- Peter Clee

LondonNet Film Review by Kim Hu
Fly Me To The Moon

Space, the final frontier...

Fly Me to the Moon. Momentum Pictures.These are the voyages of the Musca domestica (the common housefly to you and me). Their mission: to blandly go where three chimps went just two months ago in the first ever computer animated feature film designed, created and produced exclusively for 3D projection. Fly Me To The Moon re-imagines one of the proudest moments in modern American history - the Apollo 11 space flight - through the eyes of three young insects with a proboscis for trouble. Director Ben Stassen and his team employ the 3D technology to jaw-dropping effect, taking us on an incredible journey through photo realistic environments with the tiny flies as they swoop through gargantuan blades of grass or buzz around discarded toys.

The blast-off from the Kennedy Space Center is a particular highlight. Concerned, perhaps, that realistic houseflies might frighten children in the audience, the animators choose to 'cutesify' these tiny explorers to the point that they bear a closer resemblance to Smurfs than insects. Screenwriter Domonic Paris follows the example of his winged protagonists and collects rotten one-liners from the recycling bin, regurgitating these pungent morsels again and again. He ignores the creatures' brief life cycle to populate each frame with characters of all ages, including a geriatric whose claim to fame is flying up the nose of Amelia Earhart during her historic trans-Atlantic flight.

A black and white prologue (Cape Canaveral, 1961) sets the scene before the screen explodes into colour in the sweltering summer of May 1969. Intrepid housefly Nat (voiced by Trevor Gagnon) and his best friends Scooter (David Gore) and IQ (Philip Daniel Bolden) yearn for excitement. Inspired by his globetrotting grandpa (Christopher Lloyd), Nat encourages Scooter and IQ to join him on the voyage of a lifetime by hitching a ride inside the helmets of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Nat's mother (Kelly Ripa) discovers the plan too late - "Oh my lord of the flies, they are going to the moon!" - and like the rest of the world, she witnesses history in the making. However, once Russian insects discover America's triumph, they dispatch operative Yegor (Tim Curry) to sabotage mission control, ensuring Nat, Scooter and IQ never make it back to terra firma.

Fly Me To The Moon has no comedy or drama to engage younger viewers or their parents, simply the visuals which - impressive as they are - cannot possibly sustain our interest for 84 minutes. Vocal performances are solid but there are no obvious standouts. Bizarrely, real life Apollo 11 astronaut Aldrin makes a live action cameo at the end of the film to debunk the idea of flies in space and draw attention to the absurdity of the entire enterprise. Whatever next: screenings of The Santa Clause book-ended with testimony from a zoological expert to denounce the possibility of flying reindeer?

- Kim Hu


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