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Capture the Flag DVD Review

Capture the Flag (2015) US movie poster Capture the Flag (Atrapa la Bandera)

US Theatrical Release: December 4, 2015 (Spanish Release: August 28, 2015) / Running Time: 94 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Enrique Gato / Writers: Jordi Gasull (original idea, story & screenplay); Javier Barreira, Neil Landau (screenplay); Patxi Amezcua (story)

Voice Cast: Lorraine Pilkington (Mike Goldwing), Philippa Alexander (Amy González, Samantha Goldwing, Tess), Rasmus Hardiker (Marty Farr), Sam Fink (Richard Carson III), Paul Kelleher (Frank Goldwing), Adam James (Scott Goldwing), Derek Siow (Steve Gigs), Andrew Hamblin (Bill Gags), Oriol Tarragó (Igor), Bryan Bounds (Jack Farr), Ed Gaughan (Jay Lemmon), Jennifer Wiltsie (President)

Buy Capture the Flag from Amazon.com: DVDSpanish Packaging DVDInstant Video

For a few years, computer animation was a novelty beyond the capabilities of all but a few American studios. Today, seemingly anyone in virtually any part of the world can produce decent three-dimensional computer animation.

It's been ten years since American films were guaranteed box office success on the medium alone. And the rest of the world's efforts often still struggle to find an audience here at all. Take Capture the Flag, for example.

The second feature produced by Spain's Lightbox Animation Studios, Capture was made with American interests and tastes in mind. After performing well in its native Spain, where it grossed over $12 million in late summer release, Capture reached North America from Paramount Pictures. Yes, the Paramount Pictures, distributor of such franchises as Transformers, Mission: Impossible, and Indiana Jones. The same Paramount that won the last Best Animated Feature Oscar before Pixar and Disney's current four-year streak. The Paramount who has mostly gotten out of the small and mid-sized movie business to deal in tentpoles.

None of that mattered for Capture, an anomaly not just at Paramount but among the modern output of all major studios. The film opened in 20 theaters in early December, playing for a single weekend and then evidently closing immediately after. It made a grand total of $6,690 in those three days, enough to place it 605th out of the 697 theatrical releases of 2015 tracked at Box Office Mojo. If you thought that release was a way for Paramount to increase its slim chances of getting The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water nominated for Best Animated Feature awards, you'd be mistaken since Capture did not even make the Academy's eligible list.

This week, the film came to DVD, looking as obscure as ever despite the backing of one of the oldest and biggest movie studios in the world.

In "Capture the Flag", two kids and a retired astronaut grandpa make a journey to the moon.

After a prologue depicts Apollo 9's moonwalk, Capture opens in the present day with three friends playing a game on surfboards. Among these three is our protagonist, young Michael Goldwing, who descends from two generations of US astronauts. Those two generations do not get along. Grandpa Frank has been a bitter recluse ever since he had to back out of Apollo 9 for unspecified reasons. Following in his father's footsteps has done nothing to help the strained, distant relationship between Michael's father Scott and Frank.

Then, we meet Richard Carson III, a beloved oil baron who wants to expose the Apollo 9 mission as a fake and to honor his late father's dream of actually visiting the moon. Using his massive inherited wealth, Carson has commissioned a rocket and is planning to go reach the moon and plant his own flag there as the first. In reality, Carson plans to mine the moon for Helium-3, a potent alternative to oil that he plans to harness and exploit as a weaponizable energy source.

Sneaking in to Grandpa Frank's community for retired astronauts, Michael and aspiring photojournalist Kim wind up on the Saturn V, the old spacecraft that has been repaired and restored so that NASA's astronauts can get to the moon before Carson pulls out that American flag. They inadvertently end up destined for the moon and for a race against Carson.

Late night talk show host Jay Lemmon asks billionaire Richard Carson III about his big new plans.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong about Capture the Flag. Its intention to educate the young about the space program seems sort of admirable. But there's nothing about the story, the characters, or the visuals that makes us enjoy being along for this ride. It feels like a product of 2006, the year that brought a glut of CGI to theaters to suddenly non-guaranteed returns. Or 2008, the summer that saw the equally forgettable and underperforming Space Chimps and Fly Me to the Moon released.

Capture faces an uphill battle to make us care about what it's serving up. Its character development and concepts are passable. But it seems quite generic and banal in its comedic sensibilities -- e.g. a large-chinned late night talk show host named Jay Lemmon,
henchmen named and modeled after Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, a rocket-strapped lizard named Igor who tags along on the lunar mission. There are social media references, some songs you'll recognize ("Cotton Eye Joe", ZZ Top's "La Grange"), and a look and tone the makers would love you to mistake for those of a DreamWorks movie. The English language voice cast didn't even bother to enlist any names, settling for inexpensive, modestly experienced voiceover artists.

The DVD's cover does amusingly bill this as hailing "from the director of Tad, the Lost Explorer", a reference that is sure to be lost on those with no knowledge of Lightbox's first film. You don't want to be a snob and say, "leave the uninspired American computer animation to America." But the biggest feeling provoked by this is pity that so many people spent so much time to make something that apparently no one outside of Spain will want to see.

Capture the Flag DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available as DVD with Spanish Packaging ($29.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

You'll notice that Capture the Flag lacks the detail and clarity of its high definition brethren, but the DVD's 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer does not disappoint in any major way. The space setting should lend to breathtaking visuals, but it doesn't. I think Lightbox has a ways to go before catching the big studios, but the visuals are passable enough, as is the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, which only rarely serves up enough directionality for you to notice.

Marty, Mike, and Amy prepare for a mission with Marty's rocket-powered lizard Igor.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

There are no extras at all on this barren release, not even trailers for other properties.

The basic menus are silent and static.

The plain gray disc is held in an unslipcovered black eco-friendly keepcase holding no inserts.

Mike, Grandpa Frank, and Amy take some giant leaps for mankind in "Capture the Flag."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Capture the Flag ranges from harmless to benign, but that is not enough reason for you to track down this America-oriented, Spanish-produced space adventure that no one outside of Spain seems to care about. Paramount's barebones DVD is as simple as can be, but it offers a good a feature presentation as you can expect to find in North America anytime soon.

Buy Capture the Flag from Amazon.com: DVD / Spanish Packaging DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed March 4, 2016.



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and 2016 Paramount Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.