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November 22, 2009
Review - " Planet 51 "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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also puts the audience in the shoes of the alien as we see the locals unjustifiably overreact, panic, and eventually attack. It
gives a new perspective on a genre that has been done many, many times.

Along the way they do a lot of the movie parodies that you would expect. There are several "E.T." jokes, "Star Wars" jokes,
and more. And as you've seen in the ads, the dogs are actually "Alien" Aliens that pee acid. If you're a fan of sci-fi movies,
there's something in here that will make you chuckle. Adults will also catch jokes about everything from "Singing in the Rain"
to Area 51.

One of the breakout characters of the movie
is a robotic rover named... Rover. It acts like
a dog and is on an unending quest to collect
rocks (ala Scrat and acorns in "Ice Age").
What's amusing is he's so focused on the
rocks that he ignores the alien life around him.
He races around like a puppy and usually
steals whatever scene he's in. When he's
paired with the alien dog, it's one of the
funniest moments in the movie.

It’s General Grawl (Gary Oldman) and
Professor Kipple (John Cleese), and their
thoroughly closed-minded fear vs. Chuck,
a couple of teen aliens, and Rover the wonder
bot, and time is running out, because Chuck’s
ship is going back to Earth soon, with or
without him.

Unfortunately, as fun as the concept is, it's
quite predictable. You can guess literally every
beat of every act. You can probably also correctly predict how it ends without having seen a second of the film. It doesn't
help that there are very, very few laugh out loud moments in the movie. It's mainly 'smirk inducing' .

I think one big mistake the creators made was making the alien planet simply an alien version of an American 50's era small
town. The aliens have cars, TV's, comic book stores, normal clothes, etc., all just like humans, (except the aliens don't wear
pants), but with a slightly alien twist. It's kind of like Bedrock in "The Flinstones" where everything is familiar, but made with
stones or dinosaurs. Against a backdrop of a goofed out Happy Days, with floating cars, floating burgers, and saucer
shaped architecture, it’s a slapdash adventure with a few laughs and a generally fun tone, but with little that stands out as
particularly interesting. There isn’t anything especially bad about it, but it certainly doesn’t have the fun factor of something
like a Shrek or Madagascar. I think they missed a golden opportunity to do something truly alien and outrageous that would
have been more visually appealing. The movie also loses steam as soon as Baker takes his helmet off and starts speaking
English with Lem. I think it would have been a lot more interesting if he popped his helmet off and simply started babbling
unintelligibly, thus leaving Lem to try and interpret what the heck he was saying. It might have been funnier, but they wouldn't
have had Dwayne Johnson as a star.

I really love all these voice actors. Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, and Gary Oldman are all actors I enjoy
watching. But they didn't bring anything particularly unique to their characters with their voice performances. You could have
pretty much put any actor in those roles and it wouldn't have made any difference. The only exception is John Cleese as
Professor Kipple. He's the only one with a voice that really stands out in the animation.

The CG animation itself is a tad bland, too. The alien designs aren't really unique. They're humanoid green blobs with
antennae. There are definite distinct genders but since no one wears any pants it makes you wonder where they keep their
reproductive paraphernalia? There is one off-color joke about this late in the film but I won't spoil it for you. There are a
Planet 51
Directed By: Jorge Blanco & Javier Abad
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman,
Seann William Scott, John Cleese

"Planet 51" is an odd entry into the animated feature realm. With only
“fairly cute” and “moderately entertaining” in its arsenal, "Planet 51" is
easily overlooked, and I suspect, destined to be forgotten rather
quickly. I am a fan of this new-fangled computer generated animation
and so, of course, I went to see it. "Planet 51" has a fun concept, but
the execution is a bit bland. Kids will enjoy it, but adults will probably
only be mildly entertained.

Lem's life is going pretty well. He is just got a job at the local
observatory, he has a good friend that works at a comic book store,
he has a loving family, and he's about to ask out his neighbor, Neera,
on a date for the first time. But everything is turned upside-down when
an alien spaceship lands in his backyard. As the alien goes on the run
from the military, Lem not only discovers that it is not hostile, but he's
it's only hope for getting back home.

The twist? The alien is NASA astronaut Captain Charles T. Baker and
Lem is a little green man from a planet far, far away.

I have to give credit to the creators that "Planet 51" is a fun concept.
Taking the traditional alien movie and turning it around so that the
human is the alien is something that hasn't been done much before
and it opens up a lot of comedy potential. Seeing a NASA astronaut
running through an alien town in a panic generates a lot of laughs. It
couple of amusing visual gags in the background of
the comic book store (some familiar looking comic
covers) and the observatory, but otherwise it's nothing
special. This is a movie that might have benefited from
the 3-D treatment to spice things up.

Not all comedies for adults have to be "Caddyshack" or
"Stripes", and no one seems to mind the idea. Maybe
all CG Animated kid’s movies don’t have to be "Toy
Story" or "Finding Nemo" either. If you need to kill
some time with some kids over the Thanksgiving
holiday, "Planet 51" is worth checking out. It's not
great, but it's not bad either.