Reviewed by: Israel Canlapan
“Small Soldiers,” Big Ho-Hum
Will someone please tell Hollywood that high-technology does not a movie make, even if it includes voice-overs from famous action stars? Who am I kidding? Nowadays, if it sells a million soundtrack albums and moves a million more of movie merchandise, objection over-ruled.
“Small Soldiers” is a movie about the “Commando Elite,” a set of raucous toy soldiers embedded with advanced military microprocessors, going on their pre-programmed mission to search out and destroy another set of toys called the “Gorgonites”. The Gorgonites, freakish but well-mannered, are in turn pre-programmed to search for their fictitious lost land of Gorgon, and programmed to hide from and lose to the Commando Elite. The movie shows us how the toys are conceived, then delivered to a small-town toy-store in Ohio where the action begins. Nearly everything else in the movie is just scenes showcasing the impressive animatronic technology achieved by Stan Winston Studio and Industrial Light and Magic, seamlessly blending live action with computer-generated imagery.
If you’re looking for violence, look no further: toys blowing up other toys, toys hurting humans, humans hacking toys, ad destructum. There is plenty of mutilation going on here. No bloody gore, but who needs it when toy heads and limbs are flying everywhere?
Language is pretty mild for a film with a PG-13 rating, but be advised that there are about a dozen instances of crude language (hell, damn, a**) and one instance of profanity. Furthermore, some serious themes are given very loose treatment here. There are ideas about setting a moribund business on fire to collect insurance, conniving to retain merchandise in violation of proper business ethics, and paying people enough money to silence their indignance. If that weren’t enough, this movie is filled with many negatives of present society: a cut-throat business magnate who has little regard for moral values, a co-worker who undermines his partner’s trust in the name of business success, a trouble-making kid in a dysfunctional family, and a neighbor who rudely violates his neighbor’s property.
I know the movie producers think no one will see this movie for the real people. They want to see the toys. Besides, we are not to take this movie seriously. To the movie-going public, I say take your money elsewhere.