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Western Animation / Capture the Flag

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"I'm going to the Moon!"

Capture the Flag (original title: Atrapa la Bandera) is a 2015 3D Spanish computer-animated sci-fi adventure comedy film which is directed by Enrique Gato, of Tad, the Lost Explorer fame.

The movie resolves around Mike Goldwing, a plucky, determined 12-year old boy, who is the son and grandson of NASA astronauts. His grandfather Frank, a once revered, but now forgotten retired astronaut, lives his days isolated from his family after missing out on his big chance to fly to the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as a part of the Apollo XI mission. When an eccentric billionaire sets an evil plan to fly to the moon, steal the moon's vast mineral resources, and destroy the American flag planted by the Apollo XI team, Mike embarks on a magnificent adventure as a stowaway on the rocket. Accompanied by his grandfather, best friends Amy and Marty, and a clever chameleon, Mike blasts off to the moon to capture the flag and reunite his family.


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Capture the Flag contains examples of:

  • Accidental Kiss: Between Mike and Amy on board the moonlander when racing to catch the last floating sweetie, due to Igor snatching it at the last moment.
  • Action Survivor: Both Mike and Amy are shown to be pretty athletic and resourceful when they have to escape Carson on the Moon. However, due to being children, they never try to confront him directly in a fight, instead evading his attacks and tricking him into destroying his own base while he chases them.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: When escaping Carson's moon base, Frank cracks his helmet and begins to lose oxygen rapidly. Hench why he is forced to go back to the moon lander and replace his oxygen and helmet, leaving Mike and Amy to take on Carson themselves. He barely makes it in time.
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  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Mike's little sister, Tess.
  • Anti-Villain: Steve Gigs works for Carson and accompanies him on the Moon. However, he doesn't do anything beyond helping him pilot the ship and mine the Helium-3. He's simply too much of an Extreme Doormat to stop his boss when the latter goes too far.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: In the film, Helium-3 is a glowing green liquid. In reality, it's a gas, and being an isotope of helium it's also colourless.
  • Artistic License – Space: The US flag is depicted as completely intact when the Sun's rays are very likely to have removed all the color and patterns from it since the time it was planted.
  • Bad Boss: Carson's reaction upon realizing he accidentally killed Bill Gags is to promote Gigs to Bill's position.
  • Big Bad: Richard Carson is the main antagonist.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Marty does this when fighting off the alligators in the swamp.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Amy laments how this happens to her when the rocket lift-off starts, but immediately expresses her joy at the consequences:
    “I break one rule in my whole life, and I end up in a rocket heading to the moon…..YES!!!!!”
  • Capture the Flag: Exaggerated, since the flag that the heroes and villains compete to get is the one originally planted on the moon by the Apollo XI crew. On a smaller scale, in their first scene, Mike, Amy and Marty are participating in a Capture the Flag surfing competition against another team, but lose.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The "moneybag" maneuver Mike attempts in the opening scene comes in handy during the climax, as does Igor's harness being able to transmit whatever Amy's phone picks up.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: After capturing Frank, Carson ties him to a large rock, place on a conveyor belt that will drop the rock in a smelting pit.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Richard Carson. His motto is "Nothing's a hitch, if it makes you filthy rich!" He showed no regrets about accidentally killing one of his employees during a weapons test, thinks nothing of killing an old man and two kids in order to stop them from reaching the moon, and fully intended to destroy any country that wouldn't buy the fuel he'd harvested from the moon.
  • Cool Pet: Marty has a chameleon named Igor as a pet.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Carson carries a ring with a diamond forged out of the ashes of his late father. He even talks to it as if the ring were still a living human.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Frank left his family after being prevented from going into space by catching chicken pox from his son, Scott. Scott believed he did this because his father resented him for ruining his big chance. Frank eventually confesses that he did resent Scott for it, but was disgusted at himself for feeling that way, and he left to spare Scott from those feelings.
  • Daddy Issues: Scott Goldwing has this with his father Frank. Richard Carson has an even more extreme version, having melted down his father's ashes into a glass orb that he wears on a ring (and even talks to occasion).
  • Engineered Public Confession: Mike and Amy trick Carson into revealing his true plans, and transmit it to every television in the world.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Well, at least Marty does. When Mike states his intends to hide in the rocket and asks his friends to help him, Marty, after first pointing out how crazy the whole plan is, reacts with “What the heck, it’s better than studying for math!”.
  • Extreme Doormat: Steve Gigs is shown to be very unnerved by his boss' willingness to harm children, but is too subservient to do anything else than weakly complain.
  • Fat Best Friend: Marty to Mike.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Carson is ultimately left drifting in space after his lunar refinery blows up. That is, until his oxygen runs out...
  • Foreshadowing: Prior to his Robotic Reveal, Gigs comments that he never had a family.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Marty. He even manages to make an improvised communication system by hooking up his cell phone to the old NASA computers, and the various tools he installed in Igor's backpack help safe the day.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Marty has the classic white boxers with red hearts. Naturally, they get exposed when he gets stuck on a fence.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Mike’s grandfather.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: When Marty gets stuck on the fence surrounding the launch site, he urges Amy and Mike to go on without him, to which they are quick to comply. When Igor also abandons him however, Marty freaks out.
  • Little Stowaway: Mike and Amy, though in Amy's case it was unintentional since she was only supposed to help Mike get inside the rocket, then leave again before liftoff. She gets trapped inside along with Mike and Frank when Carson's mook starts up the launch sequence.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Amy has numerous siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Following the return from the moon, it takes 'two' helicopters to transport them all to greet her.
  • Moon-Landing Hoax: An important part of the plot is that many people still believe the original moonlanding was faked. Carson uses this as a pretext for going to the moon, with the true intent of claiming ownership of it, harvesting a powerful energy source there.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: When trying to sneak onto the NASA launch site, the 3 kids have to cross a swamp filled with alligators.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The trailer makes no mention of Richard Carson and his plans to mine the moon for Helium-3, nor that this is the real reason NASA suddenly wants to go back to the moon.
    • Because of the above, the Trailer makes it look like Mike and Amy accidentally launch the rocket ahead of schedule. In reality, this was done by one of Carsons' mooks.
    • The trailer makes it look like Marty panics as soon as Mike and Amy follow up on his request to leave him on the fence (see I Will Only Slow You Down above). In reality, he's fine with this. It's the fact that his pet lizard Igor also abandons him that makes him panic.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Carson tries to sabotage NASA by making their rocket leave Earth before anyone boards it and the plan fails because Mike and Amy snuck in and Mike's grandfather went there to get them out. Had Carson not tried this, he'd have about ten more hours to get rid of the flag and anything else that might be used as evidence that the original moonlanding wasn't a hoax.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: There is a late night show host named Jay Lemman, and Carson's two lackeys are called Steve Gigs and Bill Gags complete with the same physical appearances and trademark clothes as them. Also, the director of Carson's moon landing hoax is none than Stanley Kubrick himself who now cleans floors for Carson for failing him.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: During his Engineered Public Confession, Carson reveals that he intends to destroy any country that refuses to buy the fuel he's harvesting from the moon.
  • Older Is Better: The 40-year old Saturn V rocket has no trouble keeping up with Carson's modern, high-tech spaceship.
  • Plug 'n' Play Technology: Double Subverted: Marty wants to connect his smartphone with NASA's rather old computers to restore communication with Mike and Amy on the moon, but is told this can't be done due to the huge differences in technology. Being a Gadgeteer Genius, Marty promptly creates an adapter that allows him to do it anyway.
  • Puppy Love: Between Mike and Amy. While at first they are in full She Is Not My Girlfriend-mode and their first kiss is accidental, she ends up kissing him willingly (on the cheek) at the end of their adventure, during the credits, and both look adorably awkward afterwards.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The main heroes. The president of the United States is understandably not happy that, instead of 3 trained astronauts, the mission is now in the hands of a retired former astronaut who never went to the moon and 2 kids.
  • Running Gag: Tess asking every old man she sees in the retirement home and at NASA if he's her grandfather.
  • Robotic Reveal: Carson's assistant, Gigs, is revealed to be a machine in The Stinger, built by the deceased Bill Gags.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: When his grandfather calls Amy Mike’s girlfriend, both of them firmly deny this is the case.
  • Shout-Out: Carson's assistants, Bill Gags and Steve Gigs, are parodies of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. In the end, there's a magazine called Tyme.
  • Surfer Dude: Mike is a kid example of the trope.
  • Space Is Noisy: Zig-Zagged. The film tends to play around with this, as most action sequences that would normally have sound, such as getting rid of the spider-laser device attached to the hull of the Saturn V, you can hear the various attempts to get rid of it, though a bit muted. After said fight, space goes back into eerily-quiet mode again.
    • Carson Cackles (complete with echo) on the moon after capturing Frank, which is impossible for the above reason.
  • Team Pet: Igor, a.k.a.a Godzilla, Marty's pet lizard.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Mike, Marty and Amy.
  • Throwing the Distraction: Amy distracts the night guard at the retirement home with a rock so she and Mike can get inside. He ignores the first rock, but investiages the second one (which hits a lamp post), and when doing so discovers 3 residents secretly working on their own model rocket.
  • Training Montage: Three of them simultaneously; we see the new NASA astronauts getting trained by the old Apollo crew, Carson and Gigs training for their trip to the moon, and Mike training for his trip to the moon.
  • Trip to the Moon Plot: The whole plot of the movie is about the protagonists and the villains trying to reach the moon first.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Carson sends a henchman to sabotage the NASA rocket by making it launch ahead of schedule. When his grandpa tries to cancel the liftoff, Mike destroys the eject button of the rocket to prevent this.
  • Villain in a White Suit: The antagonist, Carson, wears a typical rich Texan man white suited wardrobe including the cowboy hat.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: The whole plot is kicked off by Richard Carson announcing his plans to go to the moon and 'prove' the moonlanding was a hoax, combined with showing the world that he has the rocket to do so. This prompts the president of the United States to order NASA to immediately startup the moon landing program again (which was actually scheduled for 2022).
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Carson is terrified of Igor, whom he mistakes for an alien.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Carson has no problems making attempts on Mike and Amy's lives in order to stop them from interfering with his scheme.
  • You Did Everything You Could: when Mike feels depressed about how his attempts to make his family work failed, Amy points out that he successfully reunited his estranged father and grandfather after many years. Mike isn’t impressed and states that only made things a thousand times worse.