After making this movie, Phil Hartman was murdered, which can only set the tone for Small Soldiers. What seems like a children's film on the surface is actually a semi-violent PG-13 flick that falls in that space between teenagers and little kids.
This movie should be for little kids, but it is not. The plot can only fall in to the children's category: A bunch of soldiers "come to life" and start terrorizing the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the soldiers are just as brutal as soldiers in a war movie, and without any sense of moral values (unless one of their own is injured). Their mission is to wipe out a peaceful group of toys and anyone else who stands in their way, namely the main characters, young people David Cross and Kirsten Dunst. The soldiers do try to kill the humans, not in comic violence. However, the main problem is that the people who made this film think it is comic violence, which lends itself to some cheesiness, which in turn cuts off some of the older audience.
The graphics, on the other hand, are extremely well done. Industrial Light & Magic did them, so that says quality right there, and the soldiers look extremely realistic. They blend perfectly with the real-life actors, and most of the time, move a little awkwardly as any toys would do. The only downside is that once in a while, they move really fluidly, especially the good toys, which makes them seem less realistic than what they really could be.
There is a good deal of funny tidbits, and some entertaining action. The chemistry between Dunst and Cross seems a little shallow (Cross is a little young for her), but the main problem lies in the fact that damages so many children's movies these days, that Small Soldiers can't decide what age level it is going for. The movie is not that appropriate, and might even be a little scary for the younger age level, and a lot of the plot follows the standard children's format, which cuts off a lot of the older level. It is a decent movie, but its inconsistency of content definitely shows signs of major flaws.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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