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FILM ONLY REVIEW
Lem is an ordinary teenager working at the local planetarium. He is happy as he has just got a promotion, all he needs to do now is impress the girl he likes. His world is turned upside down though when an alien space ship arrives on his planet.
Onboard the ship is Captain Charles T Baker who is working for NASA and cannot believe he has found an alien planet. He finally manages to team up with his pet robot, Rover. Lem meets Baker by accident and is about to turn him into the authorities when Baker tells Lem the truth about space. Lem believed it was only small but Baker opens his eyes to the fact that it is a lot larger and there are so many other galaxies than he thought.
Lem strikes up a friendship with Baker and along with his two friends tries to get him back to his ship and back home but with the authorities after them it is proving to be harder than they thought. Can Lem and Baker get to the ship and can Lem ever impress his girl?
I was so looking forward to watching this film despite it being a children's one as the trailers made it look good and funny. I can honestly say I was not at all disappointed on any level and found it suitable for audiences of all ages. The story was good and I loved how they made the human the alien as this is so different to all the other space and alien films I have seen. I thought it was very down to earth and did not play or dumb anything down for the younger viewer.
The animation was excellent and I enjoyed the 1950's feel the alien planet had. The planet was bright and colourful and just like how the films show America to be back in this decade. The attention to detail was great and I found there to be lots of background detail and this made it look so real at times. The character were also created very well and they did resemble frogs in my eyes at times but they had the walking and talking of a human. They were all given lots of facial expressions which helped to bring them to life.
My favourite character was Lem, he was a normal average teenager who had the normal problems they all face. He enjoyed his work but just could not talk to the girl he liked and I thought this was a good addition to the story as it took us away from the main story with the human alien. I found Lem to have a good voice which really bought the animated character to life. There were times when forgot that I was actually seeing a computer generated character as I got to know and like him so much. He showed some good emotions at times and also gave us some very good laughs. The character Captain Baker came across as a typical American Hero who loved himself. I enjoyed seeing how chiselled they made his facial features and how big and buff he looked. He was a good character and realistic and there was a good connection between him and Lem which was helped with the super choice for the vocals.
There were a lot of other very good characters and we had a good variety. Some of the vocals for the characters included the actors, Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long and Gary Oldman. They really did a great job in bringing the animations to life and I thought they were well chosen.
The story does have a lot of humour in t which is made to appeal to all ages. Me and hubby did at times laugh out loud at some of the daft things which happened and really got into the film. The majority of the gags are visual ones but they are not the usual far fetched ones you find in cartoons they are more normal and real. There are some good spoken jokes which also help to make the characters funny. There were no jokes which would have gone over the heads of the younger viewers and there are no crude ones which makes for a perfect family film.
The music was also very good and it also had a very 50's feel. I found I was actually singing along to some of the songs, especially the opening track. I thought the music choice was great and suited the style and the setting of the film.
As this is a film only review there are no bonus features to mention. The running time of the film is 91 minutes and I found this to be a great length and think that it has enough humour and colour to keep children sitting still for the whole duration. The rate is a U and I totally agree with this. The DVD can be bought in the shops for around £5-7 but this is currently being shown on Sky movies so try to catch it there for free.
I am happy to give this film the full 5 stars as it does deserve it. The story is great and so is the animation and characters. This is definitely a film which the whole family can sit and enjoy together.
Usually when my daughters settle down to watch a DVD, I don't often have time to sit down and watch with them, normally having one hundred and one other things to do. However, I was drawn to the animated film Planet 51, especially knowing that it came from the makers of Shrek which I always enjoy on a quite regular basis. I was glad that I did watch it as it is a great little film and very funny.
The film was made in 2009 and is the opposite of most sci-fi type films. In this film, Planet 51 is inhabited by funny looking green people who look like what we would call aliens. However, when US astronaut Chuck Baker lands on the planet, thinking that he is the first to set foot there, the planet's people think that it is they who are being invaded by aliens and everyone is out to capture Chuck to see what they can discover about his species and also to foil the invasion. Luckily Chuck is befriended by Lem, a young teenager who has just started work at the local Planetarium. Together, along with Chuck's wheeled probe Rover, they hide and try to keep one step ahead of the authorities. It is a race against time though as Chuck needs to get back to his space craft so that he can return to Earth.
Planet 51 is a thoroughly entertaining film for both children and adults and the humour works on a lot of different levels. One of the things that I really liked about the film was the way, like Shrek, that it kept slipping in scenes from other well known films. One moment there was a scene from ET, another time we were reminded of Alien, and at one moment we were transported very cleverly back to Singin' in the Rain! I'm sure that there were lots of other references that I missed especially as generally I don't bother watching science fiction films. It is the sort of film that is probably worth watching more than once because each time you are bound to spot something else or appreciate another film reference.
The film is set in a parallel nineteen fifties and the setting reminded me very much of the set in Pleasantville. The characters are fun and quirk although there is a certain amount of stereotyping particularly in Chuck who is depicted as someone who is vain and self-absorbed and is used to his celebrity status on his own planet but is also quite useless and inept. There is not the usual long list of celebrity voices that there are in some films; I only recognised John Cleese and Gary Oldman.
There is a lot happening in this film that is bound to hold children's attention and lots of funny moments too. Both my five and six year old daughters loved and were totally focused on what was happening from start to finish. Also with a running time of only eighty six minutes it is just the right length to keep children's interest. But don't dismiss it as just a kids' film though as there is much subtle humour that adults will really appreciate too.
Although this is a film only review, it is worth mentioning that on the DVD cover it claims that it is also 'loaded with a world of extras!' We bought our copy at Sainsburys for £9.99.
Planet 51 is an animated film, fitting in well with the recent 'alien' theme that seems to run through a lot of children's films. This one, though, has a twist. The film focuses round a world of people who are terrified of being invaded by aliens. Some people believe in aliens, others scoff at the mere thought of their existence. Then one day, an alien lands in their midst.
The difference between this scenario and others is that the ones who are terrified of an alien landing are actually living on a planet other than earth. They live exactly as we do and when an alien does land, it turns out to be a human astronaut, sent up by the US to explore space. They react as the human race probably would if an alien landed - they panic!
I loved this film - The animation is so good that it almost seems like a real film with real people. I liked the fact that the 'humans vs aliens' theme was flipped on its head and I thought that the story itself, although a little flimsy, felt as though things were actually happening for a reason rather than as padding and it didn't detract from the story at all.
The things that most made me laugh whilst watching this film were the parallels between our world and the aliens' world. Little things such as one family having a barbeque and flipping burgers that were hovering above the grill. Little things amuse little minds, I suppose.
Is it a good cartoon? Yes it is. Is it more suitable for children? I'm not sure, to be honest. There are bits that will appeal more to adults and there are bits that will appeal more to children. Each group can appreciate the film as a whole though, so it's a great film to go and watch as a family.
Would I watch Planet 51 again? Actually, yes I would. I think that there are bits that can be missed during the first watching and I do think that it will be as good the second time around. So I'm recommending it to both adults and children.
Planet 51 is an animation aimed at children which is released on Dvd on 29th March 2010.
I took my son to see this at an Odeon kids club thinking I wouldn't enjoy it as hadn't heard a lot about it.. Boy was I in for a shock. It is so good to watch a film that has everyone laughing adults and children alike.
It is written by the same author that compiled Shrek and Shrek 2 so if you liked those films you know what quality to expect. Even the aliens have a shrek look about them.
The whole film is animated and set on a planet which is a normal planet with shops, people, pets etc apart from they are actually green people and robotic pets! We'd call them aliens but to them they are normal and it is us humans that are the aliens. They live in their houses with white picket fences and having barbecues in the gardens and their only fear is being invaded by aliens. Kind of a role reversal.
The main character is Lem a young boy who works at the local planetarium and loves astronomy. He is friends with his next door neighbour Neera but would rather it was more then just friends.
Captain Chuck Baker is the alien that arrives in a space shuttle and dressed as an astronaut he just wanted to plant the American flag on the planet and be on his way but is shocked and scared when realises there is life on the planet.
The rest of the film entails trying to get chuck safely back to his shuttle after he becomes friends with Lem. He has limited time to return to his shuttle as the shuttle was set on autopilot to return home so the count down begins. Chuck didn't arrive alone as his robotic dog called Rover was trained to collect items for research and could track down Chuck or the shuttle if separated.
I won't reveal the ending as that would spoil the film but well worth watching whether you are an adult with or without a child,
Look out for the ET scene of alien on bike flying past the moon.
I did find that a few laughs and punchlines were aimed at adults. One of them being When you were looking at the back view of Chuck and he dropped his blanket showing he was naked and one of the green men said "That sure is a strange place to have your antenna"
All the adults laughed at that part..
On the whole I was pleased that we did go to see this film and my son was glued through out.
The characters and voices-
Captain Chuck - Dwayne Johnson
Lem - Justin Long
Neera - Jessica Biel
General Grawl - Gary Oldman
Professor Kipple - John Cleese
I won't list them all as I found many were just names that I didn't know. The only voice during the film I actually recognised was John Cleese.
I took my two year old son to the kids club at the Odeon to watch planet 51 today. This film was released at the cinema in December 2009. It is due for release on DVD on 29th March 2010.
Planet 51 is a story about an Astronaut by the name of Captain Charles "Chuck" T. Baker who goes on a mission to visit planet 51.He has no other goal than to plant the American flag then return home in a blaze of glory. Chuck Lands on Planet 51 in a town Called Glipforg and walks out his space ship plants his flag before looking around and noticing that the planet is inhabited by aliens. These Aliens live similar lives to how we lived in the 1950's; they have barbecues, visit the cinema and worry about what is in outer space. The clothes and hairstyles are also reminiscent of these times.
The main characters that live on Planet 51 are:
He is a young teenager who has just got a job at the local planetarium where they believe that space is 500 miles long. He is very happy with his life and can see his whole future mapped out with home, marriage and kids on the itinerary.
Skiff is Lem's best friend who works in a comic store and does believe in aliens and also believes there is a secret base hidden away on planet 51 that contains evidence of alien life named base 9.
Eckle is one of the smaller characters, a young boy who is very excited and spends most of his time wanting the aliens autograph.
Neera is Eckles older sister and also the girl that Lem has a secret crush.LEm does try to tell her but each time he is interrupted by her hippie friend, Dar
When the aliens see a spaceman arrive they understand him to be an alien as he is visiting their planet however Chuck cannot understand this as he just views himself as normal and them as Aliens. His arrival is a little unfortunate as an alien film "humaniacs" is about to be released.
Quickly a friendship develops with Lem and Chuck and in a reverse to the Film ET. Chuck wants to go home to earth. Chuck has 72 hours to return to his base before it returns to earth. Lem hides him and in his home and tries to devise a plan to get him back to his spaceship. This is not straight foreword as the spaceship is been guarded by the army who do believe that Chuck is here to take over the planet and control the mind of all of the inhabitants of Planet 51.
Chuck is also re united with Rover his robotic dog who has special searching powers who develops a love for Skiff
Very similar to ET they are been pursued by the Army and Professor Kipple who wants to remove his brain for examination.
The question is will he make it without been captured or is he doomed for a life of been examined and studied at base 9 on planet 51.
I have listed the actors and the characters that they play.
Dwayne Johnston- Captain Charles "Chuck" T Barker
Justin Long- Lem
Jessica Biel- Neera
Seann William Scott - Skim
Freddie Benedict- Eckle
Gary Oldman - General Grawl
John Cleese- Professor Kipple
My Opinion and experience
I had shown my son the trailer online so that he had an idea of the film and I could explain basically what it was about so that he found it easier to follow the story.
The movie was produced by Sony pictures and the animation is not at the level of DreamWorks or Pixar but it was bright colourful a little bit more basic but this did fit in with the Feel of the film and gave it a simpler feel but did not make it feel like a high budget film.
I found the character of both the aliens and Chuck developed with the film and both the inhabitants of Planet51 and Chuck learnt a lot about themselves and there preconceptions. I did learn to love the character. Initially I disliked Chuck but as his friendships developed you discovered kinder and more depth to his character.
I did find the odd little snippets of adult humour which left me laughing out loud but not necessarily the rest of the cinema so either they weren't watching or not as amused as myself.
I did like the concept that all aliens consider us to be the aliens interesting and quite thought provoking for both the children and adults viewing this film.
The story itself became a little predictable and my son's interest seemed to waver towards the end but this may have been due to the length of the film. The film itself is 87 minutes long which is a long time for a toddler to sit still.
The story itself once the film gets going is very simple to follow but at times felt like the story needed moving on at a quicker pace.
We both came out of the cinema having enjoying the film. I did not expect to particularly enjoy it and ever imagined that I would be amused in parts.
I do think for any child who is interested in space and Aliens this is a great film and as a parent it is certainly a pleasant way to entertain the children which will give moments of amusement.
This film is a certificate U and is available for pre order on Amazon for £9.99
I have now seen planet 51 twice; once at home and once in the cinema with a load of kids on a Brownie guide trip. Both times I really enjoyed it, as did the company I went with.
It is basically a story set in a 1950 styled era on a planet, planet 51. Here little green people live and work and go about their daily lives and the main character is Lem, a teenager who has just got his first proper job in the planeterium and is really happy, he is in love with the girl next door and about to ask her out, at the start, the only thing going wrong is Glar, the other (cooler, protesting) guy who also likes the girl.
Lem hangs around with his best friend and a little guy (his neighbour) and is generally happy.
This is until a spaceship from earth lands on his garden and he becomes responsible for the "alien" (Chuck T Baker from the USA on a NASA mission to explore new places (and win a Disney kids choice award and generally become famous).
I don't want to spoil the whole story but it is basically a brilliant film. The characters are endearing and funny and the "alien" is funny and you do warm to him. The first time I saw this I thought it would be better for the kids and I wouldn't enjoy it but I realy really did, so much so that I reccomended we watch it when I was with my boyfriends family. There are little adult aimed jokes which were good to keep me interested but most of the humour was still funny and it is just a nice, clean funny family film to watch.
The animation was really well done and i loved all of the details in the music, the costumes, the VW bug space hover car thing driven by the hippy, all of it. I thought that the friendships were well anomated and all of the characters had little unique things about them.
I also thought it was good because at the end, Chuck does go back and rescue his enemy, which shows children watching it that we still have to be nice to others.
If you get hold of a copy, or fancy some easy funny watching, give this a go!
Captain Charles 'Chuck' T. Baker is an egotistical astronaut, sent to plant a US flag on the surface of Planet 51, hoping for a speedy exit back to Earth and to his adoring fans. But when he finds out that he isn't the first form of life on the planet, when he imposes on a group of little green aliens having a barbeque, Chuck hastily makes a dash for the nearest hiding place.
When Lem, a young and friendly alien with dreams of making it big as a lecturer and with the girl of his dreams, stumbles upon Chuck, his normal life suddenly turns into a huge drama. With the help of some of Lem's friends and Rover the robot, the human and aliens must get Chuck back to his spaceship in time for his return to earth. But the task isn't an easy one when Planet 51 think that the human invading their home is a brain-eating, zombie-making alien.
~ Cast ~
Lem - Justin Long
Captain Charles 'Chuck' T. Baker - Dwayne Johnson
Neera - Jessica Biel
General Grawl - Gary Oldman
Skiff - Seann William Scott
Eckle - Freddie Benedict
Professor Kipple - John Cleese
I've been wanting to see this for ages but my hubby was never really interested in it, so I only just got to see it this weekend - my mum and I looked a little bit sad going in to see this without any children with us but neither of us cared!
But it turned out to be quite an adult-aimed film and surprisingly rude considering it' aimed at children and looked pretty childish from the trailers. There are a fair few moments where some lines are said that are meant to be for the adults in the audience only as young children will not understand the meaning of them at all and I did find these very funny, even more so because they were so shocking coming from a children's film. There were a few lines which, although also aimed more towards adults, children may understand them, and I have to admit that they were pretty rude such as one of the alien's referring to the astronaut's male parts at one point. Personally, I found all these parts hilarious and it made me laugh out loud so many times, but for those with children who may understand the jokes, I suppose it depends on how lenient you are with them hearing a few rude comments.
I did think that the storyline was a great one making the humans out to be the aliens and the aliens being nice and cute little creatures most of the time, however the whole story may be a little difficult for the younger children to comprehend. The animation was very good though for the younger kids who don't really need to understand the plot, and the entire film was made up of very bright colours and the aliens lived on a colourful and exciting planet. The characters did lots of chasing around, dressing up and playing games which entertained the children a lot.
The voices didn't really make much of a difference to the film apart from John Cleese as the mad professor who thought he knew everything there was to know about aliens. His voice gave that bit of crazy humour that it does to all his parts.
For some reason, although done very well, Dwayne Johnson voiced Charles Baker, a white astronaut. I'm not sure why they couldn't have just made the astronaut black to match Dwayne Johnson's voice. Saying that though, I couldn't even tell that he was the voice behind the character anyway but he did make Baker a very likeable and funny character.
I went in thinking that this was going to be a film better suited to children but I came out with a completely different opinion of it. There were so many funny moments throughout and I ended up really enjoying this.
Running time: 90 minutes
Certificate rating: U
Director: Jorge Blanco
note: also appears on my film review website, TheFilmBlogger.com
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is indeed prime voice material for an animated film; his wrestling days proved beyond doubt that he has the cartoonish charm and larger-than-life persona to carry a film that commands just that. However, the Spanish-funded Planet 51 lacks the emotional core and strong script to make it anything more than a sophomoric, overly crude animated offering.
The film begins promisingly, depicting life on Planet 51; a world populated by green, anthropomorphic aliens, the kick being that they're on a cultural time lag, and are still participating in what we would perceive to be the 1950s. The film's general aesthetic - complete with period music and some classically stodgy ideologies - evokes the notion that perhaps it might have a drole, knowing sense of humour. There's also a fun reflexivity with the human-alien paradigm, in that the anthropomorphised aliens view the impending human (an astronaut - Charles "Chuck" Baker [Johnson]) as an "alien", and of course, the film begs the immediate question - would an alien race develop culture in the same way as us?
However, the film is stacked to the brim less with intelligent questions and more with jokes about dog poop and butt-plugs, making it a sight more edgy (and not in a good way) than you, or your kids, might be expecting. Just as offensive is the film's lazy recycling of the same trite love story we've seen a dozen times before - teen alien Lem (Justin Long), pines for Neera (Jessica Biel), but becomes the third wheel due to her hippy friend Glar, and so decides to "man-up" and learn some tips from the recently-landed Chuck - and no amount of pretty CGI can mask that.
Chuck isn't exactly alone in the tin-can he arrived in, though; he brings with him Rover, a dog-like robot that bares a bemusing resemblance to WALL-E, but what's more disappointing is the sometimes mean-spirited treatment this bot is dealt, killing an insect almost immediately upon arrival. Such informs a product that is for the most part quite cynical; cringe-inducing product placement for the chocolate bar Twix greatly abounds, as well as an overdose on pop-culture references, from an iPod playing the Macarena, to Arnie's signature phrase in Terminator 2, and even a few overly smarmy nods to Star Wars, as well as a particularly painful reference to Facebook.
There are a few fun ideas, admittedly, particularly when the film parodies the Invasion of the Bodysnatchers scenario, but ultimately interest fizzles out way before we reach the finish line. We've seen this kind of E.T.-ripoff executed better plenty of times before, even if it does have a few sporadic moments of good invention, but that novelty, sadly, doesn't last long.
I am no conservative, nor a believer that our kids need to be completely shielded from what is natural, but in a U-rated kids film, do we really need a joke about the aliens confusing Chuck's penis with his antenna? Really? For all of the sophistry of the films of Pixar, Planet 51 is a dumb antidote; a film an alien race might unearth several millennia from now and realise that we humanoids truly are simple creatures amused by simple fancies. A talented cast, including Johnson, Justin Long, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman and John Cleese simply deserves better, for while this is fairly well animated and the cast gives it their best, the script borrows most of its best elements from other films and relies too much on tiresome pop culture references and overly crude gags. Planet 51 is the rare exception that proves that animated films can actually be pretty mediocre.