Movie Review: Freedom Force (2013)

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You could call the English-language dub and subsequent U.S. release of filmmaker Eduardo Schuldt’s Freedom Force an amusingly animated case of cinematic history repeating itself in the form of CG science fiction homage.

The American voice cast finds Christopher Lloyd paying tribute to his iconic time-traveling, Jules Verne reading scientific inventor Dr. Emmett Brown in Back to the Future by giving vocal life to a similarly gifted professor who sends a team of Sci-Fi nerds back in fictional time to salvage the stories of Jules Verne in this inventive family film.

A cross between Robert Zemeckis’s smash ‘80s film series with a literary twist reminiscent of author Jasper Fforde’s brainy Thursday Next mysteries of altered literary greats, Freedom Force centers on an audacious plot to ruin the reputation of Jules Verne just in time for France’s Literacy Day event by deleting the main characters from his classic works.

Putting a hit out on his most famous heroes with the intent to shatter Verne’s most ingenious plot-lines, while leaving nonsensical novels filled with gaping holes and crazy cliffhangers in their wake, Lloyd’s professor is tasked with putting a stop to the villain’s narrative madness.


Determined to set the type right, an elite force of gifted kids – all with wildly different skill sets and each with one character trait in common with the great Jules Verne – are assembled under the guidance of Lloyd to sneak into each novel Tron style and locate a secretly hidden “reset” button to align the stories once again.

Ensuring that young girls are represented as well, Force calls on Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s famous small screen butt-kicker Sarah Michelle Gellar to follow in Lloyd’s footsteps and play a new family-friendly twenty-first century animation version of her most famous role as the group’s brave fighter.

While the use of juvenile scatological humor in the form of a team member’s penchant for combative flatulence slightly weakens the overall high quality of the film, ultimately the pro-literature plotline and bold, colorfully constructed CG animation keep the attentions of the target audience engaged while impressing parents at the same time.

This being said, in order for its pro-literacy roots not to get lost in the shuffle amid all of the adventure, Freedom may have been a bit more successful in focusing only on one or at most two of Jules Verne’s classic works to help encourage young readers even more.

And although Freedom Force loses focus in its second half by trying to be too many things to too many people, overall it’s a much better direct-to-disc offering than we normally see from titles without big studio backing.

Moreover, it’s sure to keep your children entertained especially during long holiday season travel with its New Year’s Eve timed-release on DVD and demand. Thus, despite a few flaws, this Dove Foundation approved family feature remains a solid work of animated science fiction history repeating itself that’s aimed to appeal to those too young to go Back to the Future just yet.


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