Small Soldiers was released on July 10, 1998. The comedy starred Gregory Smith, Kirsten Dunst and Denis Leary. The Amblin film was directed by Joe Dante.
A set of high tech toys surprisingly get delivered to a small town toy store. It is quickly discovered that the action figures, a group of military figures called the Commando Elite, and a group of odd creatures called the Gorgonites, are fighting a real war because they are equipped with military technology. The war quickly brings in members of the small town, including a young boy & girl who are on the verge of starting a romantic relationship.
- Small Soldiers has an interesting premise and set up. The idea of military toys being the antagonists of the story is a pretty cool one.
- Kirsten Dunst is very, very good in one of her earliest performances.
- The action figure effects are done very well, and still hold up today.
- While the Small Soldiers premise is strong, not much is done with it. The film never seems to have many ideas beyond the initial set up.
- The action is repetitive and becomes boring after a while. There isn’t a lot of imagination put into the set pieces.
- The lead in the film, Gregory Smith, is a pretty boring character. He is often unlikable and doesn’t bring the charisma needed for a lead performance in a film like this.
After a promising start, Small Soldiers never seems to know where to go. It meanders for much of its runtime with no real urgency or inventiveness. The effects are impressive for its time and it does offer a few fun flourishes – but overall the film is quite subpar.