Augmentation is a contentious issue, sure there are a lot of ways the tech could benefit us, but what about the cost of our humanity? Serious stuff, especially for a popular children’s cartoon about a bumbling cyborg cop. In 1999 like other properties Disney gave the inspector his own live-action spin-off a tale that was darker than the original, yet paradoxically light-hearted, in the eponymous Inspector Gadget.
Wannabe cop John Brown works as a security guard for Bradford robotics, Johns job goes from bad to worse after Sandford Scolex, a rival tycoon, brutally murders his cyberneticist boss and steals valuable robotic parts. After confronting Scolex in a daring car chase John is left for death, He’s given a new body, a robotic body (that’s like a Swiss army knife on steroids, that responds to his commands) and a job on the police force, where he quickly gains fame. Scolex also survives but at the cost of his hand, replaced with a metallic claw. He assembles an evil Robo-Gadget to frame regular Gadget. Now Inspector Gadget must balance love, justice and a complicated new tool-set, as he (and his much savvier niece, Penny) brings down the nefarious Dr. Claw.
The move from cartoon to live-action might seem limiting to the antics of the inept inspector, but you couldn’t tell from watching, like a lot of its contemporaries, Inspector Gadget utilises C.G.I. to great effect, augmenting the live action much like the eponymous Inspector is augmented. There’s a lot of great physical gags too, to delight both young and old and Broderick and co. commits to the slapstick and throws in a lot of referential gags to make the whole package shine.
These changes are also felt in the choices by the star-studded cast. Matthew Broderick channels a hopeful and sympathetic while also managing to capture the exact opposite with Robo-Gadget. Of course, in the cartoon, the elusive Claw is mostly depicted in mystery, hiding behind his chair… but when you’ve got someone as handsome as Rupert Everett, that would be a tremendous waste. He oozes with charm and malice, However, none of these feels like they’re doing a straight adaptation of the cartoon, instead they’re making the characters their own. It’s a feeling that runs through the film, and while I like the cartoon, I applaud Disney for the direction.
Inspector Gadget works as a strong introduction to the character and as a fine stand-alone instalment. Taking familiar staples of the show, but injecting them with their own spins jokes and style that feels both unique and as a homage, while this film is just the beginning of gadget’s career leaving ample room for a sequel, to summarise: Forget Go-Go Gadget, this film go-go goes places!
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