Aug. 24, 2020

Awful August - Space Explorers

Awful August - Space Explorers

You know it's bad when there is not a single review..strap in...

Heading into the next Awful August film, I'm torn. Space Explorers is a movie that wasn't intended for you or me. It is strictly an "edutainment" film that you plop your kids down in front of to shut them up for an hour or so and hope that maybe they'll learn about animals and the different biomes on the planet Earth. Can I realistically tear into a movie that was designed for young children? 

The answer is yes because screw this movie.

Let's get something out of the way. I'm well aware that most adults aren't supposed to "enjoy" children's movies or tv shows. But I always find that the best children's shows are timeless and the best of the best is something that adults can sit down with their kids and watch together. 

I didn't know what to expect going into Space Explorers, but the trailer gave me a vastly different idea compared to what I was expecting. So I want you to hop inside my head for a moment and let me show you a screenshot or two and get what my thoughts pretty much were when watching this.

"Hey, doesn't look too bad, nice looking space graphic and the opening credits has a few of these, they look pretty decent like something you might use as a desktop background, maybe this won't be so bad after all!"

*one minute in*


"Well, this is going to give me nightmares."

That screenshot is of the two main characters, Nick and Sammy. The trailer is an outright lie because it makes it seem like the two are trying to save Earth's animals from something. But let me assure you there is precisely ZERO plot to this "movie."

I put the word movie into quotes because, as I watched these moving pictures masked as a movie, I thought, "It seems like they designed this as a bunch of shorts they just connected into an hour plus movie." You want to know the plot of Space Explorers? I'll tell you. 

Nick and Sammy are newly christened space explorers whose job is to fly to various planets and study stuff there. However, rather than fighting Klingons, dealing with Vorlons, or making the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, they instead fly to Earth and study animals. By "study," I mean they are told about what they are supposed to be studying by their superior Captain Maya, their ship computer Skya, or Cup-K their...I don't know what the hell Cup-K is.

Why doe a cupcake need to breathe in space? Is god a lie?

For the movie's entirety, Nick and Sammy have a "wowee!" and "cool!" reaction to everything they are told about everything. When they are told by Cup-K that Anacondas squeeze their prey to death before eating them (while saying the word like "come give grandma a huuuuuuge hug"), Nick responds with "incredible!" which worries me that he's planning something.

"Well Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?"

The animation...oh god, the animation. My screenshots don't do it justice guys. The mouths simply flap at random, and there are zero attempts to match the lip movements up to the dialogue. Characters will say something, and you can tell the actor was making a gesture in the recording studio, but the animators said a prayer and plowed ahead anyway with whatever was in their vision for Space Explorers.  

Their vision includes using the same animation of the ship flying, accompanied by the same music every time. But more baffling is that the ship looks like it is somehow on a green screen, which is some kind of incredible achievement that should get someone beaten up for an animated movie. There is literally a scene where the characters are flying through Earth's clouds, and the transition is done SO POORLY that it literally looks like Nick and Sammy got some pointers from Cheech and Chong.

"Am I driving ok?" "I think we're parked."

There's something else that bugged me while watching Space Explorers. What the hell was Captain Maya getting out of all this useless information, and why exactly did she need it? During the first "mission," Maya asks the question that must be answered, "Why is the Earth so difficult to see from space?" Now mind you, this is an intergalactic space-faring species, but Maya apparently needs two idiots to fly down to Earth and realize clouds are floating around the planet. Jesus Maya, how'd you get promoted? We're at Admiral Jameson levels of incompetence here. Also, why does Maya need the two of them to go to Earth anyway? She, Cup-K, and Skya seem to already know everything about Earth's animals, locations, and biomes.  

Part of me thinks that Maya is just trying to get these two morons out of her hair while she plots the real plan, an Independence Day style invasion of Earth armed with the knowledge of what animals will be better resources for their galactic empire.

Really, I'm just having fun. If you or your kids learn something from this, fine, but honestly? There are better ways to present publicly accessible short videos of some animals in question or stock photos of others.  Space Explorers I suppose is harmless enough, but when you have documentaries like Planet Earth and Our Planet, it means that something like Space Explorers has to be unique and original, and it utterly fails at meeting either criteria. Go listen to David Attenborough narrate gorgeous visuals filmed with love and care by camera crews sent to film those animals specifically.  

Space Explorers can pretty much be replaced by a simple google/youtube search about the animals in question. There are a couple of "huh, I didn't know that," moments I had while watching it, but the animation, voice acting, pacing, and flow were all just a mess. The movie ends with Maya telling the two Space Explorers, "Next we'll send you to Africa to study the rivers there!" and the movie just...ends after that. I'm assuming that Nick and Sammy ran into Al-Shabaab somewhere there since we don't get any info about African rivers. RIP Nick and Sammy.

"Luke, you switched off your targeting computer."

1 out of 5 stars.