Today: May 18, 2024

Small Soldiers

When a toy company accidentally programmes action figures with military tech, the Commando Elite begin to act like real soldiers … with the peace-loving Gorgonites in their sights … and regardless of who else gets caught in the crossfire.

1992’s Small Soldiers was never the big box-office splash it deserved to be. At the time, critics complained that the animation somehow lacked the anarchic vibe of other Joe Dante vehicles—most notably Gremlins. Yet, the 12 rating proves that there’s more to Small Soldiers than cutsie toys running amok. In fact, the Frankensteinian doll-surgery scene is distinctly disturbing. And watching a young, manic Kirsten Dunst mutilate the Commando Elite might make you wonder why she’s never been cast as a serial killer.

Dante had originally wanted the cast of Predator (1987) to voice the Commando Elite with Arnold Schwarzenegger as their the leader, Chip Hazard. Ultimately, though, Chip was voiced by Tommy Lee Jones with the other Commando Elite parts going to the cast of The Dirty Dozen (1967): Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown, Clint Walker and George Kennedy. (Charles Bronson apparently refused to voice a toy soldier.)

In turn, the Gorgonites are voiced by members of Spinal Tap with additional cameos from the likes of Christina Ricci (The Addams Family) and Sarah Michelle Geller (Buffy The Vampire Slayer). The movie also features music by Led Zeppelin, who are notoriously strict about how their work is used. All in all, it’s a smorgasbord of talent–that’s well cast and well used.

The opening moments of Small Soldiers may feel distinctly like Middle-America Spielberg, but there’s Dante magic—and mania–in this off-kilter classic too.

Extras: Deleted Scenes & Special Effects, Bloopers, Behind-the-Scenes.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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