Deep Digi Domain
Hasta la vista, buggies! boldly declares pixilated pixie Phig (voiced by annoyingly perky TV sitcom star Jenna Elfman), who's part Tank Girl, part Judy Jetson. She's literally referring to computer bugs in the Galleria Animatica software, version 3.0, the program she's supposed to demonstrate for viewers in the IMAX 3-D extravaganza CyberWorld. Her anthropomorphic foes take the form of three salivating cartoon insects (remember the Cavity Creeps?) named Buzzed, Wired, and Frazzled, whose code-munching results in detrimental effects -- black holes, overaggressive sea creatures, lame dialogue -- on the Galleria. Thus Phig dons battlegear over her cybersuit (which intentionally hugs her well-endowed, or shall we say digitally enhanced, bod) and gets busy with a bazooka-size blaster.
Phig's war on bugs generates the so-called plot of CyberWorld. While the title holds the promise of a thrilling sci-fi spectacular that viewers can reach out and touch, the film really is just a lukewarm excuse to guide the audience through a veritable pupu platter of three-dimensional scenes (originally rendered in other animated formats) tailored to fit enormous IMAX scope and proportion. CyberWorld's sampler of eight excerpts was judiciously selected from a whopping 250 submissions on the stringent criteria of look, IMAX 3-D compatibility, and nice camera motion, according to the film's coproducer, Hugh Murray. The movie, which hails itself as the first-ever 3-D animation feature, showcases previously released works from Germany (Joe Fly and Sanchez -- Mostly Sports), Paris (KraKKen: Adventure of Future Ocean), London (The Pet Shop Boys' Liberation), Japan (Flipbook/Waterfall City), and the United States (Monkey Brain Sushi, Tonight's Performance, Antz, and Homer3). Like a colorful nutritious medley of Bird's Eye frozen vegetables, everyone will find some bits more appealing and satisfying than others.
And there are many odds and ends (and sometimes even rear ends) packed into this 48-minute collage of cartoons: loads of landscapes that would bowl over zany surrealist Salvador Dalí; a group of well-coordinated gold globules that can belly-dance; a cool Egyptian dung beetle that can talk and hoop up a storm; bouncing images reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's hyperactive Big Time video. Some snippets even blur the boundary between film and audience more intensely than one might hope, such as in the undersea fantasy KraKKen, when the butts of several penguinlike creatures quickly whiz by one's face.
But the obvious favorites (and the ones IMAX is hyping heavily in order to pack in the masses) are the Antz sequence, which hoards most of the film's sparse wit, and the Homer3 segment from The Simpsons' 1995 Halloween episode. Bemoaning being sucked into the third dimension, a bulgier-than-usual Homer whines: There's so much I don't know about astrophysics. I wish I read that book by that wheelchair guy. Well, Homey, don't we all?
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