The original 1980s Inspector Gadget is a classic, that's still funny, thrilling and well-animated and voiced with one of the most memorable theme tunes to an animated show ever. While expectations were very much mixed for this CGI reboot, anything does deserve to be judged on its own merits so a real effort was made in trying not to compare too much.
Sadly this reboot is pretty poor, something that the original show's fans will find a slap in the face but actually it fails on its own terms too. The best thing about it is the voice work of Tara Strong as Penny, Strong is a very talented voice actress who performs to a consistently high standard and she brings charm and spunk to Penny (Martin Roach as Claw also has some nice moments in the quieter moments). Penny is also the least bad character in the show despite some awkward moments (especially with Talon), the only one to show any sort of personality, which is of charm and resourcefulness rather than the blandness and buffoonery that the rest of the characters show. The gadgets are sometimes pretty cool, though not as imaginative as the original show's.
Conversely, while it was good that the reboot maintained Gadget's original main character qualities they lack the same spark, he may still be unintelligent and gullible but he's also annoying and bland by too much of a supporting character in his own show and taking credit for things he didn't do. Ivan Sherry tries his best and some may argue that he does sound like Don Addams, but to me it sounded like Sherry trying too hard to imitate Addams, except because the writing is vastly inferior here he lacks the comic timing. Instead of being formidable, Dr Claw is too much of a buffoon and it is way overdone, as aforementioned had some nice quietly menacing moments but they're outnumbered by the buffoonery which Roach also overdoes in the voice acting.
Talon is an annoying and stereotypical character, and the writers did miss an opportunity by revealing his villainy too early. He and Claw have an interaction that is more reminiscent of Dr and Scott Evil in the Austin Powers films, which felt out of place and saw lots of forced dialogue, even more goofiness- intentional and unintentional- and lack of suspense. The romantic subplot made little sense, had little chemistry and is contrivedly written. Brain is not just underutilised and underplayed with grumpy being pretty much the only emotion he shows, but largely wasted. The writing is incredibly corny, often to an embarrassing degree, and the jokes are too silly, the few times they were good (i.e. the one with the bull in the second episode) they were just mildly amusing. Admittedly so were those of the original's, but they were done with much more charm and imagination and the timing was much crisper, here the worst of it is eyeroll-inducing. Any semi-seriousness that the stories have here are completely lost because the humour dominates so much, and unfortunately it's the kind that might pass muster for young children or those who are not expecting much but will embarrass adults and come close to offending die-hard fans.
Inspector Gadget's (2015) story lines disappoint too, not only being too short but not very well paced, Dr Claw's schemes are rushed and too easily resolved (most of them are embarrassing, and enough to insult fans, somebody said that even Dr Evil would reject them and this viewer agrees) and the generally poor execution of the humour that dominates the show gives the show a laboured feel. It does very little with the formula or the 'inspecting' aspects, which get almost completely lost amidst all the additions the reboot brings. The animation is not very appealing apart from a few dynamic moments in the technological parts, a lot of the character designs are stiff and for CGI this is flatly coloured and hurriedly and sparsely detailed stuff, CGI has come on a lot when executed right but one wouldn't think so looking at the animation here. Musically, there is little memorable and, while one wasn't expecting the use of the old theme tune, surely they could have come up with something better than what they did come up with, this theme tune sounded like it was devised in minutes.
Overall, not a complete waste of time but pretty poor. 3/10 Bethany Cox