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First, I'll let you know about our demographic (to help you decide if
you will relate to my review or not): I am a parent of a 10 year old
boy, a 7 year old girl, and a 2 month old baby. I am in my early 30s,
and my wife is in her late 20s. We are moderate movie-goers, as in, we
watch a fair number of movies, and we miss a lot of movies. I am
University educated, my kids are fairly typical of their age, and my
wife is also fairly well educated.
We decided to go to this movie with our children at 9:20 PM on a Saturday Night which was actually also our 11th anniversary. It was a bit of a risk, and considering the rating that this movie seems to have, it could have ended horribly (considering it was our anniversary) We all quite enjoyed this movie. It's not overly complicated, but it's got a fairly unique plot, decent script, excellent character development, and it seems to steer clear of some of the more cliché stereotypes that could have plagued this type of movie.
It's pure fantasy, and it's nearly 100% kids movie, but we adults didn't have to "suffer" through it. My wife and I laughed heartily at much of the situational humour; both my kids laughed uproariously at most of the silly funny moments, and the situational humour. The visuals were quite pleasing, without being annoying (I find the latest 3D craze with so many movies rather annoying, for example). The voices were well cast, the scripts and voice-acting was well done and quite seamless. I didn't find myself thinking, "I know who that voice is!" at all, because it wasn't something that popped into my mind.
So, I gave this a 7. Why not higher?, you might ask. Well, it's not ground-breaking, it wasn't epic, and it wasn't a movie that leaves me thinking about something for a long time. It wasn't lower because there was nothing blatantly bad about this show. It was all enjoyable, and none of us regret having seen this show on our anniversary.
I hope my review helps you decide to go see this film :D
It's an "ET-in-reverse" story. An Earthling astronaut gets stuck on
what he calls an alien planet. The local green folks call him
(accurately) the alien. The story is a fond tribute to drive-in's,
space-creatures sci-fi, and the 50's. With the Area 51 reference in its
title, you know the film will be poking fun at everything it can get
its hands on, including itself. It delivers this.
There's hover craft that look like big-finned autos of that era, black & white TV, and pioneer rock 'n' roll. It's clever humor, although some of this has been done before. There's a lot of parallels to Monsters vs. Aliens, too, in that frequent references to classic sci-fi flicks (up to the present, not just the 50's) pop up in sight gags and one-liner jokes. My fav was the character that resembled the Aliens movie creatures. There are other clichés sent up for satire: a loud mouth hawkish general, a wanna-be scientist, etc. Adults won't be bored thanks to these in-jokes, and the kids should like the slapstick stuff.
The film boasts a great idea, and some, but not all, of the potential is utilized. It's good natured and fun, rating about average for an animated feature.
First of all, let me say that I'm tired of dumb reviews saying "why do
aliens speak English?" or "they fart and burp a lot". Disney's The
Princess and the Frog's trailer has about 3 ass related jokes and one
burp in less than 45 seconds. Toy Story's characters spoke English and
understood humans and nobody wondered why. A house managed to be lifted
by balloons in Up with no police radars detecting anything. So, this
said: Let's sit down and enjoy a movie and stop looking for silly
excuses to criticize it.
I watched Planet51 with my two nephews (8 and 10 years old) and they enjoyed it all the way. The quality is as good as Pixar's or Dreamworks and, yes, it's true the script is somewhat flat and very repetitive, but as the kids said to me "We didn't understand Wall-E's plot and didn't sympathize with any characters in Up, but Planet51 we did." It has some really funny characters (the white camera ala Wall-e and the alien pet), plus it's easy to understand, and despite the lack of chases or explossions it keeps its pace all the time and, as I said before, kids love the characters and understand -and enjoy- the plot.
As Groucho Marx once said: A child of five could understand this. Fetch me a child of five!!!
I took my 8 year old daughter and her friend to see this opening night.
There was a decent size crowd who seemed to enjoy it. For ESPN fans one
of their long time personalities, who has his own video short series on
the website, was there. But I digress.
It took a while to realize that it definitely was Dwayne Johnson as the astronaut's voice. He's created a great niche for himself in family films and I think he does good job. Justin Long was a good choice for the lead "alien" Lem and John Cleese is always a good choice as he did a small role as the professor. The role of Skiff brought good humor to many scenes. Sean William Scott was very animated in his voice acting for this character. Other than Rover and the hippie-like guy, the rest of the characters are just back drops without adding much.
We laughed quite a bit throughout the movie, which is mostly the point. There was plenty of cute humor with the dog-like robot Rover, who was a little reminiscent of WALL-E, a little. The down-side was that it never drew you in to fully connect, sympathize, like or dislike any of the characters. I didn't see myself rooting for anyone over anyone else. If the message is supposed to be about not judging anyone based on appearance, that message was shallow. If the message was to keep an open-mind toward what is possible and to learn new things, that message was under-developed.
Bottom line, the kids enjoyed it and we had a good entertaining night out. So in that respect it served its' purpose. The animation was suitable and I liked the 50's like theme of the planet. One or two adult humor jokes in there that could have been omitted and not change the movie.
For a family movie 7/10.
American astronaut Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker lands on Planet 51
thinking he's the first person to step foot on it. To his surprise, he
finds that this planet is inhabited by little green people who are
happily living in a white picket fence world, and whose only fear is
that it will be overrun by alien invaders...like Chuck! This film is
made from the alien perspective. They are like the 50's Earth, they
have the hippie guy, the youngsters who are open to new ideas that
aliens are friendly. Frankly, I liked the film even though it wasn't
epic or adventurous enough. This is a film made for the kids have a
great time & I know they'll enjoy this. The thing I didn't like was
that the love story between Neera & Lem seemed to be forced. Planet 51
is the hometown & Chuck the human astronaut is the alien in this film.
It was funny at times & I think every youngster can relate to something
in the film & the old timers can get a kick out of the 50's feeling.
I liked how it rained rocks & how the evil doctor laughed. Everything about the storyline is about the 50's. Even they have The Humaniacs horror film that is considered scary for their generation. The premise of the plot is great, they could have made it better. The voice actors Dwayne Johnson (Chuck), Justin Long (Lem) & Neera (Jessica Biel) all did a good job. You'll enjoy this if you watch this with some kids.
I have always loved animation, whether it's cartoons(Looney Tunes and Silly Symphonies), films or TV shows. Planet 51 is not a bad movie, but at the end of the day it felt rather bland. I've seen worse certainly, but I can also think of better out there. The animation is wonderful though, very rich in colour and detail. The soundtrack is memorable, there are a few funny moments that will have children chuckling, fun set pieces and a couple of Cold War pastiches that will keep adults interested, Rover is a great character and by far the best character of the movie and it all begins very promisingly. The voice cast are full of great actors, especially Gary Oldman and John Cleese, and Planet 51 generally uses them well, Dwayne Johnson is an especially likable lead. However, the story, despite its great premise, is rather weak and unoriginal in structure and after a promising twenty minutes it is never quite as interesting. I liked the Cold War pastiches, but some of the other references were verging on tired. Among the funny moments, there is the overall mediocrity of the script, with a lot of clichéd dialogue. The characters are weak and stereotypical, with one of the blandest villains I've seen in an animated film recently, and the ending is very predictable. In conclusion, looks great but at the end of the day it felt very bland and forgettable. 6/10 Bethany Cox
As you may or may not know, I'm a bit of a sucker for an animated
feature and, having seen the trailer for Planet 51 a while back I was
keen to see how it turned out. I must admit I was shocked how poorly it
has been received. What I found was a funny, engaging film with a whole
load of gags referring to just about every mainstream sci-fi/alien
film. I admit it's not perfect, but I think it deserves another chance.
But more of that later, first, here's a very brief summary (miss the
next paragraph if you hate summaries).
Planet 51 is supposed to be lifeless, well, that's what the data said anyway. Unfortunately for astronaut Captain Charles T. Baker, it isn't. Alien life forms with green skin inhabit this little planet and they have advanced as far as the 1950's, that's USA 1950's, just in case there's any doubt. A teenager, Lem, befriends Baker and, with the help of his friends, Skiff and Eckle, hides him from the army and their leader, General Grawl and the crazy scientist, Professor Kipple. He is in love with Eckle's sister, Neera, but struggles with getting the right words out. Back with the mission, help is at hand in the form of R.O.V.E.R., an advance scout robot who was sent ahead of the mission. Time is running out for Baker, his command craft, in orbit, leaves in 72 hours. Can Lem and his friends get him back to his Lander in time? Will Baker help Lem with Neera? Is there any end to these crazy questions? Guess you'll have to wait and see.
As I said at the beginning, there are plenty of gags incorporated into the script and there's also a lot of slapstick. My favourite character is the 'Alien' dog; you'll know what I mean when/if you see it. The dialogue was adequately delivered, but then nobody was really stretched. Honourable mentions go to the voice talents of; Dwayne Johnson as Captain Charles T. Baker, Jessica Biel as Neera, Justin Long as Lem, Gary Oldman as General Grawl, Seann William Scott as Skiff and John Cleese as Professor Kipple.
Over all I found it a very entertaining movie with quite a few laughs. I guess it's down to taste and I'm aware that we are all different, especially when it comes to comedy, but I urge you to give this one a chance. Although it's not perfect, I've seen much, much worse Recommended.
My score: 6.4/10
I have to admit the trailer was funny enough, with an astronaut so full
of himself thinking that his planetary visit was an open and shut case,
only to discover that it's inhabited and he's the alien in the truest
sense of the word, like a fish out of water trying to make his way home
lest he becomes an experimental subject.
And the aliens, well, are just like us, with plot conveniences such as having the same mixture of atmospheric gases like Earth's, and hey, the green things with four fingers on each hand speak English too! They're city folks with a penchant for 50s musical oldies (that pepper the soundtrack), with a whole host of modern day, earth-like references all over the place in a desperate attempt at being recognized for being smarty-pants. Unfortunately though it tries too hard to be funny at every turn, and it only brought about the occasional mirth.
It's about time that filmmakers realize that pumping a film with too many references for its own good, is something of a tired formula. You'd wonder when such references will seize, to allow a good story to shine. Planet 51 suffers from too much wink-wink moments, complete with blatant rip offs that bring too much attention to themselves. One look at the pet named Ripley and resembling like a Xeroxed replica of an Alien complete with acidic pee, you're likely to roll your eyes. Or how about that robot probe that functions and looks like R2D2/WallE and comes without dialogues but plenty of whirrs and beeps while going about doing cutesy stuff?
Despite a relatively A-list voice cast with the likes of Dwayne Johnson (who doesn't sound like the real deal if you ask me), Justin Long, Gary Oldman, John Cleese, Jessica Biel and Seann William Scott, Planet 51 felt like a Frankenstein monster, stitched together from ideas of other films, and plastered together forcefully to try and make the narrative work. Characters too are a little boring and one-dimensional, with little heart.
Bottom line is, CG graphics and copycat characters don't make an animated film entertaining. A sincere story does and this one is found lacking, and too talky too for kids to enjoy, in my opinion.
Planet 51 (1:31, PG) SF, 2nd string, original
Let us enumerate the other movies which this one rips off (or, if you wish, to which it pays homage): 2001, Alien, The Day the Earth Stood Still, ET, The Right Stuff, Singin' in the Rain, Star Wars, Terminator, and WALLE. Even the inexplicable rain (rocks) is evocative of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
The overall theme alien race in the foreground with humans as the bad guys has likewise been done in Battle for Terra, The Tale of Despereaux, James Cameron's long-in- production Avatar, and sort of in District 9 and Delgo.
But you know what they say: If you copy from only 1 source, it's a ripoff; 2 is plagiarism; 3 is research; 4 or more is scholarship and will likely lead to tenure. Besides, the target audience is too young to have seen almost any of those other movies, and the writer (Joe Stillman) must have figured he needed to put something in for the parents.
The nostril-less green-skinned natives of Planet 51 don't call it that, of course. To them, it's just "the world", part of a universe that may be as much as 500 miles across, with thousands of stars. This pathetic naivete has not kept them from discovering anti-gravity, however, but it seems that they never figured out how to apply it to anything besides cars. Similarly, they may be aware of design forms other than the sphere, but it seems not to have occurred to them to use anything else. These oddities aside, their world looks a whole lot like Eisenhower-era America, complete with white picket fences, B&W TV, and alien-invasion movies.
Rocketing down into this peaceful scene comes a LEM (lunar excursion module), piloted by Capt. Charles T. "Chuck" Baker (Dwayne Johnson). It lands on the front lawn of one of the globular homes, and Baker strides out of it to plant the US flag on the sidewalk, apparently totally oblivious to his surroundings. The natives finally close their mouths and go into hysterics. Chuck flees.
The main viewpoint character is Lem (heh, get it?), a junior assistant curator at the local planetarium (voiced by Justin Long, who you just kept waiting to say "I'm a Mac."). He's got the hots for the GND, Neera (Jessica Biel), but has been too shy to make a move. She gets put off when it appears that he's anti-alien, but in fact he's just acting that way as he tries to provide Chuck with a hideout preparatory to getting his spaceship back.
The military under Gen. Grawl (Gary Oldman) shows up and behaves as it did in TDTESS. Among the grunts are stock Rosencrantz and Guildenstern figures, apparently to provide comic relief in what was ostensibly a comedy to begin with.
This all takes place in the town of Glipforg, and I spent way too much time during the show trying to figure out what it must be an anagram for. (Frogglip, which describes Neera?)
We know from Monsters Inc. that it's fiendishly difficult to animate hair and fur. If you recall Up, you may have been among the 2% of the audience that noticed Carl growing a very fine, sparse gray stubble over the course of his adventure. This is the sort of thing that nobody would have noticed if it had been absent, but the Pixar guys threw it in anyway, because they're Pixar. Ilion Animation, the Spanish firm behind Planet 51, not only didn't go that far, they decided to skip the hair thing altogether and went with banana dreads for the natives.
OK, so I've already rattled off lack of originality, inconsistent technology, gratuitous distractions, and corner-cutting animation. Why then do I rate this flik as high as "average"? Because the animation was good enuf for the quality of the film, the story was good- natured, there were several smiley moments (tho no out-loud laffs), and it's hard to get too down on any movie where a jostled iPod starts playing "Macarena" and the general exclaims "I've never seen such a heinous weapon.".
It wasn't half as bad as I expected. Planet 51 is directed mainly at children, and the humor is appropriately simplistic, which makes the infinite number of cultural references, of a type that was archaic when Pleasantville used them ten years ago, rather odd, because it seems unlikely that any child would get them, but there are enough laughs to make it enjoyable, even if the admittedly appealing premise runs out of gas after about fifteen minutes. If the movie tried to make a serious point about what makes someone 'alien' or about xenophobia and fear of the unknown, then it failed miserably. But as a piece of straight entertainment for the family, it's a fairly enjoyable (thoug forgettable) piece of film.
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