Directors: Kyung Ho Lee, Wonjae Lee
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Carla Gugino, Jason Kravits
Watch Bling online in the UK: Google Play
This week, Google Play broke movie ground with the release of Bling, a new feature-length animation, available to stream from the site for free before it hit cinemas. Sadly, that’s the most notable thing about the whole film.
Bling follows two inventors, one a lowly theme park mechanic, Sam (Kitsch), the other a super villain, Oscar (Kravits). They have one thing in common: they’re both planning to propose to the woman of their dreams. The problem? Neither of them are very good at it. Sam is the kind of head-in-the-clouds good guy you expect when you hear the words “inventor” and “film”, perpetually designing new ways to surprise his girlfriend, Sue, with outlandish stunts that are forever destined to break down. Oscar, meanwhile, is a megalomaniacal bad guy, who wants to destroy the city just to impress Catherine (Gugino), Sue’s mother.
It’s a nice enough idea to focus on the usually overlooked domestic lives of heroes and villains, but Bling does so without any substance, wit or originality. Sam ticks every nice-but-dim cliche you could name, while Sue seems to stay with him for no other reason than the script says so. Oscar is even worse, whiney and self-centred in a way that the film appears to think will make him endearing, but only makes him incredibly inconsistent; he’s ambitious and technically brilliant, but never manages to be threatening in any way. Even his loyal robot servant, Viktor, can’t decide whether to be sympathetic, world-weary, heavily weaponised or evil.
These poorly conceived characters are stitched together with repetitive music (they seem to have only one song on the soundtrack) and even more stereotypical supporting characters. There are Minion-like sidekicks, who bump into each other and make silly noises, while Sam’s best friends spend their time pretending to be superheroes because that’s what kids like in movies these days. The result is a bizarre mash-up of Robots, Kung Fu Panda, The Incredibles and Despicable Me, which stumbles along to its conclusion through a string of barely logical set pieces and unexciting showdowns. Are we meant to be rooting for Sam? Crying for Oscar? Laughing at Viktor? Or cheering on the wannabe superheroes as they undergo a pseudo-origins story? With no emotional engagement, the stakes never feel high enough to care, while the screenplay’s endless parade of one-liners aren’t funny enough to compensate. Even the animated visuals (which are largely unimpressive, but consistent in style) can’t keep you entertained.
The cast throw themselves into their roles with enthusiasm – Kitsch’s role is a versatile contrast to the rest of his CV, while Gugino and Kravits are obviously enjoying themselves – but Bling never comes across like anything more than a pale imitation of other movies. Released within a year of Pixar’s Inside Out and Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea, this is a simply inadequate copy that looks the part but doesn’t come up to scratch. “I guess we can cross fake superheroes off our CV,” jokes one of our lead quartet, after saving a schoolbus of children halfway through. He speaks a little too soon.
Bling is available for free until 10th April on Google Play in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Botswana, Cambodia, Fiji, Iceland, Jamaica, Macedonia, Malta, Namibia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.