By David Lee Zamora
Special to the Parade
Spies in Disguise is the first animated film to leave me in awe with its incredible attention to detail. Honestly, I had to remind myself to pay attention to the film and stop looking at all the tiny details.
I’m a huge fan of art and animation. I watched every Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks film and tons of anime, but I eventually stopped watching them, due to some dumb, false machismo idea that cartoons are for children. But like any sane adult, I realized being machismo is far more childish, and have seen how much animation, more specifically CGI animation, has improved since the last time I saw an animation film in theaters.
Spies in Disguise is the latest film from Blue Sky’s Studios, who are known for their Ice Age films. This really surprised me, due to how beautiful some of the animation is. The first two minutes of the film are incredibly detailed, showing a dark room with a digital clock counting down, with the glare from the red numbers showing all the scratches and damage on the screen of the clock. Then a set of pliers come in from the top of the screen, looking almost-real with its reflection showing the lines on the metal from where it was cut. It was incredibly realistic. However, the film does drop in quality but not by much. Throughout the film, you can still see every bit of fabric and stitching on the clothes of the characters; and even the hair in the film looks realistic to a point where it’s kinda creepy.
The film is about world-famous spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith), who has been framed for stealing a very deadly drone by the villain Killian (Ben Mendelsohn). While trying to clear his name, he gets the help of former scientist and gadget maker and employee of Sterling, Walter Beckett (Tom Holland), who Sterling fired minutes before he was framed. Sterling fired Beckett because his gadgets are nonviolent. Beckett believes in peace while Sterling believes in fighting fire with fire. After a plea for help to disappear, Beckett turns Sterling invisible. Unfortunately, for Sterling, Beckett’s idea of invisible is being turned into a pigeon.
The film does have its fair bit of adult humour, like when Lance starts to turn into a pigeon, his hand shrinks and he panics and opens his pants to see if anything else shrank. Or when Beckett’s pet pigeon falls in love with pigeon Sterling and tries to kill Marcy (Rashida Jones), the agent hunting down Lance.
The film also has a mature plot and tone to it. Killian actually kills someone for no reason, which made his character genuinely scary to me. Sterling also has a very sad backstory that the film tells through small bits of dialog throughout. This is my favorite part of the film: the fact that Sterling isn’t really a good guy. He’s lost people he cares about to justify his killing of countless villains, which the film’s characters let you know.
Spies in Disguise is Will Smith’s best film in the last couple of years and was a really fun watch, besides the awful theme song called “Rocket Fuel” that was, luckily, only played twice.