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When Chuck the astronaut (Dwayne Johnson) lands on a distant planet filled with little green people, he is surprised to discover that we are not alone in the galaxy. But he gets the shock of his life when the residents of Planet 51 mistakenly believe that his presence is the start of an alien invasion of the human kind! Luckily, Lem (Justin Long) quickly realizes that Chuck is friendly and makes it his personal mission to help him return safely to his ship.
NOTE:The disc art on the original manufacturing runs of the DVD will state “Digital Copy” but it's a DVD only.The digital copies are expired, but those discs will contain a perfectly playable DVD version of the movie.
What if there are creatures living on other planets in other galaxies? And what if those creatures are a lot like us? When American astronaut Chuck Baker (Dwayne Johnson) lands on what's supposed to be barren, rocky planet devoid of life, he gets a big surprise. It seems that Planet 51 is home to little green people who are living in what's basically 1950s Americana--or should that be 1950s Alieana? Chuck bears a marked resemblance to Planet 51's science-fiction comic book and horror movie characters the "Humaniacs," and hysteria breaks out because the little green men think his appearance marks the beginning of an alien invasion. Lem (Justin Long) is a junior curator at the local planetarium and one of the only people on the planet who is awed, rather than frightened, by the concept of a larger universe. While his fellow citizens set out to capture the invading alien, Lem believes Chuck when he declares that his mission is peaceful, and Lem risks his own safety to help him return to his ship and his home planet. With a little help from Rover (an American robot probe that has been sending rock samples back to Earth while ignoring the planet's life forms), Lem's neighbor and secret crush Neera (Jessica Biel), his friend Skiff (Seann William Scott), and hippie protester Glar (Alan Marriott), Lem just might be able to save Chuck. The question is--what will the personal consequences be for Lem? The story is an amusing twist on America's long-standing fascination with the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and the film has plenty of comic moments, but it ultimately lacks suspense and fails to truly engage the viewer. The result is a film that provides some laughs but is ultimately not that entertaining. (Ages 7 and older) --Tami Horiuchi
Planetarium - The Voice Stars of Planet 51
The World of Planet 51 - Explore the Sights and Sounds of Planet 51
Life On Planet 51 - Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
Music Video Montage
Animation Progression Reels
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The obvious send-up of 1950s American culture is fun, and so is the shoe-on-the-other-foot twist of the human being viewed as the fearful alien menace, but if that's all a viewer takes away, he or she is missing a lot. There was plenty of unexpected satire that had me laughing out loud through much of the film. There is also a profound message that centering one's society around perpetual fear can cause more harm to a culture's core values than the thing being feared; however, the message very carefully doesn't get in the way of the humanity (alienity?) of the story.
The music was well done and really enhanced the fun. Visually, I loved the film. Character design wasn't anything particularly special, but the look of the planet itself was gorgeous. This is a cartoon, after all, not an overblown CGI extravanganza like Avatar, so you shouldn't expect photorealistic rendering of every tiny detail. The beauty of this kind of artwork is in the imaginative forms and colors, the simplicity of shapes and lines that enhance the story, not overwhelm it.
Actually, having brought the subject up, I suppose many comparisons and contrasts could be drawn that make Planet 51 a kind of Anti-Avatar. Here, the humans are neither conquering villains, nor paternalistic hero figures. People--er, beings--from both sides have to do their part on Planet 51 to bridge the misunderstanding of cultures and enable goodwill to prevail. That may not be the kind of dramatic plot it takes to engage some viewers' attention these days, yet it's exactly the sort of solid but gentle storytelling one should expect from the offspring of George Harrison's Handmade Films.
Plus, so far as I can tell, no one has yet suffered depression after viewing Planet 51. :)
The first few minutes are the 'scariest' with an alien attack being depicted. (Scary being subjective, of course, since most eight-year-olds would have no issue with the scene.) After that, this movie started working its magic. It is funny and very entertaining, even my husband stayed for the whole thing (he takes the 'family' out of 'animated family film').
Right from the start, Planet 51 jumps in and embraces all of our alien stereotypes and beliefs, having cleverly reversed the roles. I especially appreciated the subtle inferences (look for what we call a meteor shower). There are also many nods to other films, songs, and pop culture figures. These guys are living in the 50's, and the storyline is enhanced by that setting.
Planet 51 defintely deserves favorable consideration if you are on the fence, wondering if it will be as entertaining as it looks like it should be.
One thing - this item is supposed to be a 2-disc Blue Ray/DVD combo. It's not. There is a blue ray disc, and there is a second disc they call a DVD. The 'DVD' is a disc you can use to play the movie on your computer or play station. Even if that is okay by you, the 'DVD' feature needs a code to activate it and allow the download. The code expired in March of 2011. This explains the incredibly discounted price. You are not getting a combo pack. This is, effectively, just one disc - and do not purchase it unless you can play a blue ray.
I still give it 5 stars because it is interesting and thought provoking. I guess kids see what they see but as an adult, these are my thoughts. Watch it and let me know in the comments if you agree.