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Capture the Flag

Ever since the landing module of Apollo 11 touched down on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969 and Neil Armstrong took one giant leap for mankind, conspiracy theorists have pointed to an elaborate cover-up. They maintain that the iconic footage was faked at a film studio closer to terra firma, and back up these bold claims with supposed proof of scientific inaccuracies in the grainy recording. Capture The Flag is a family-friendly computer animation which teases the possibility of the hoax and ultimately debunks it by travelling back to the moon in the company of a NASA veteran and two children. Enrique Gato's Spanish adventure, which has been dubbed into English for UK audiences, has its sentimental heart in the right place and there are numerous heavy-handed verbal references to the importance of family over work or personal gain. It's all terribly well-intentioned and predictable, shot largely from the perspective of a gung-ho boy, who just wants to make his parents proud. A night time journey over water festooned with ravenous alligators is played for laughs rather than Jaws-style scares, while a half-hearted romantic subplot between two children is addressed with the lightest touch. Kissing? Eurgh! Gross! Twelve-year-old Mike Goldwing is a gifted kite surfer, who takes to the waves with best friends Amy Gonzalez and Marty Farr to compete in games of capture the flag. Mike and co always fall short but the youngster doesn't let failure get him down. His father Scott is a NASA astronaut, who has been training for months to travel to the moon until injury shatters that dream. It's a repeat of the Goldwing curse: Scott's father Frank was also an astronaut, who failed to follow in the footsteps of Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. When multi-billionaire Richard Carson announces his intention to fly to the moon to prove that the Apollo 11 mission was a hoax, the President of the United States hurriedly authorises a joint mission between existing and old NASA staff to beat Carson to the Stars And Stripes planted in 1969. A twist of fate results in Frank heading to the moon with grandson Mike, gal pal Amy and long-suffering lizard sidekick Igor. Meanwhile, back at Mission Control, Mike's mother Samantha frets about her boy's safety and pint-sized gadget wizard Marty overcomes glitches that jeopardise the success of the mission. Capture The Flag boasts colourful visuals, slapstick humour and chases to entertain young audiences, who dream of their own adventures in the starry firmament. Vocal performances are solid but don't invest the characters with any quirks or additional colour. Carson is a particularly unthreatening chief villain. Adults, who demand narrative sophistication from their animated fare, may want to abort lift-off before the end credits but Gato's film is a sprightly 94 minutes and doesn't outstay its welcome.