With its live-action adaptation in 1999, Inspector Gadget managed to make a grand introduction to the silver screen, yet when it came time for a sequel, none of the original cast wanted to return. Shifting the tone of their franchise, to more reflect the property’s roots. In 2003, 20 years after the original cartoon that touched a generation, Gadget came back with a vengeance in Inspector Gadget 2.
Dr Claw is out of jail, and looking to rebuild his fortune, Meanwhile, with overzealous behaviour and constant glitching, Inspector Gadget is proving to be more trouble than he’s worth for the Riverton, Ohio police force. But like a last generation iPhone, he’s quickly made obsolete by the dazzling G2, The female cybernetic cop of the future. While constant bumbling cost Inspector Gadget his job, That puts Dr Claw in prime position to wreck the economy for his gain, now the two gadgets must work as one to once again stop the nefarious Claw.
Inspector Gadget 2 pivots significantly from its predecessor, returning to the cartoonish roots, the origin tried to shed. Silly costumes, goofier henchman, and wall-to-wall slapstick. None of the cast return as well, (apart from the voice of the C.G.I. Gadget-mobile) considering the change of tone between the two, this is probably for the best. Taking over from Broderick is 3rd Rock From The Sun’s French Stewart. He fills the role more than adequately, lending his trademark expressive face and physical presence to the slapstick. Dr Claw is portrayed by Tony Martin who manages to instil menace, even without showing his face. Newcomer G2 is played by Elaine Hendrix, capturing the cool robotics style that made Star Trek’s 7 of 9 famous. Along with Caitlin Wachs as Penny the brains behind the crime-fighter has this fun Nancy Drew energy.
Aside from the cosmetic and structural changes, It took me by surprise how much this film reminded me of other films I’ve covered here and have seen, It contains the colourful and crazy antics of The Cat In The Hat, choreographed comic-ness of Batman & Robin, even the challenges of not having the original cast like Son of the Mask faced. Watching Inspector Gadget 2 felt like a greatest hits tour of contemporaries from the past and future. Showing that Inspector Gadget 2 knows what the audience expects, and what works and offers ample for both.
20 years from its inception and Inspector Gadget is still going strong, with an offering that will more than please the three camps of fans that the cartoon and these two movies have mustered. Yet in its own right, it is a very entertaining, very light-hearted caper. With newer characters fully adapting to the tried and tested tropes, once again Inspector Gadget shows he has a tool for everything.
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