Planet 51 (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Animation / Comedy / Science Fiction
Columbia || PG - 91 minutes - $39.95 || March 9, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-03-05


Buy this DVD from Amazon.com!
.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Jorge Blanco
Writer(s): Joe Stillman (written by)
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman, Seann William Scott, John Cleese


Theatrical Release Date: November 20, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Music Video Montage
  • Extended Scenes
  • Interactive Game
  • DVD/Digital Copy Combo


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, English, German, Spanish, Turkish

Comment on this and other movies on the message board!


.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

CLICK HERE to check out the 1080p HD Screen Captures (link opens in a new window).

Pixar/Disney dominates the computer animation field and DreamWorks Animation is making headway with the Madagascar and Shrek movies (not to mention Kung Fu Panda amongst many others) while Fox has also found a piece of the pie with the popular Ice Age franchise. Now there are smaller animation studios springing up and the latest of the bunch is Ilion Animation Studios and their first endeavor, Planet 51.

Planet 51 is a clever animated flick turning the whole 1950s alien invasion on its head. Back in the 50s, people were fascinated with the concept of little green men and their plans to invade Earth and take over people’s minds. Well, in this movie, things are reversed and it’s the little green men who fear aliens coming into their planet and turning everyone into zombies.

Our central character, Lem (JUSTIN LONG), is a goofy teen. He’s gotten his first job and discovers the girl next door (JESSICA BIEL), and the girl of his dreams, has as big of a crush on him as he does her. His best bud Skiff (SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT) is a typical sci-fi nerd and believes in aliens and that the government has a secret location known as “Base 9”.

Just as the latest sci-fi movie, called Humaniacs III, is to come out, a strange spacecraft lands right in Lem’s backyard and out comes NASA astronaut Captain Charles T. Baker (DWAYNE JOHNSON), a good-looker and self-confident man who soon discovers he is not alone. After running around town, with everyone believing he will turn them into zombies, he receives help from Lem and company to get him back to his spacecraft and return to the mothership which is set on autopilot to leave in 74 hours.

Before he can get back to the craft, the military, led by General Grawl (GARY OLDMAN), has surround it, now Lem and Charlie must work together before it’s too late.

As a B/C-level animated picture, Planet 51 wasn’t half bad... when it comes to the story and voice work. Unfortunately the actual animation seemed a little amateurish especially when you compare it to the big boys. This is not to say the style isn’t original as they built a little town after the 1950s era and capture that nostalgia for the time quite well, but the little green men, as they try to distinguish one from another, didn’t look right.

The cast Ilion assembled wasn’t too bad but it’s likely they went for the star impact rather than a voice who fits the character. Now, Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) seemed to be pitch perfect for the ego-filled NASA astronaut and Gary Oldman, the man with 1000 faces and 1000 voices, does a great job as the film’s antagonist. On the other side, although Justin Long, Jessica Biel and Seann William Scott are OK, they don’t offer much and are there purely for name recognition (as are Johnson and Oldman).

For all the issues I have with some of the voice casting and animation, for their first animation feature, Ilion is off to an OK start. While it doesn’t measure up to the big boys club of Pixar and DreamWorks – or even Fox Animation –, I think it would be unfair to make those comparisons. As another computer animated picture, it’s certainly better than I had expected.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

“Target 51” Game – For the kids, you can play this game with an optional iPhone controller app (from iTunes). No thanks. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Extended Scenes (2:50) – There are three average scenes here that doesn’t add anything to the story.

The World of Planet 51 (2:54) is just a tour of the Planet 51... planet and the set designs. *Yawn*

Life on Planet 51 (12:04) – I believe this was a featurette produced for television to get the kiddies interested. Between footage from the film we get interviews with the cast talking about their characters. We also get a look behind-the-scenes at the cast recording sessions how Ilion animated the film.

Planetarium: The Voice Stars of Planet 51 (3:18) – Short featurette that focuses exclusively on the cast and features some of the same footage from the “Life on Planet 51” featurette, with some additional sound bites.

Planet 51 Music Video Montage (2:11) is yet another montage this time showing footage from the film set against some rock music. *Yawn Part 2*

Animation Progression Reels (15:53) are a set of 6 animation comparisons from the storyboards, test animation and final composite. Although I have little interest in this, perhaps those looking to go into the computer animation field will appreciate it. Finally, there is a DVD/Digital Copy Combo. I should warn you that the DVD does not contain any of the extras (for what that’s worth), so if you’re thinking of getting this as a go-between as you wait to get a Blu-ray player, I thought you should know. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Presented in its original 2.35 aspect ratio, Planet 51 comes to Blu-ray with a nice-looking 1080p high-def transfer. Obviously when it comes to animated features, I don’t think the standards are as high (and noticeable flaws) as live action films, and this one doesn’t show much in the way of faults. Of course, a movie with so many bright colors, and wide color palette, should look good in HD, and it certainly does. One of the biggest and most noticeable aspect of the video comes from the “alien” skin tones which look marvelous.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, meanwhile, doesn’t quite have the punch by comparison. A good portion of the movie is dialogue driven and the front and rear speakers get a little use with some ambient noise/chatter. However, the few bits of action sequences didn’t have much of an impact on my surround system, in fact it sounded a tad flat at times. I expect my major animated movies to have much more depth, but that being said, this is probably good enough for most.



.::OVERALL::.

Although the studio behind Planet 51 isn’t anywhere near the big boys club of Pixar and DreamWorks both in terms of animation and story (when you get past the initial concept), when you just take it on its own merits, the movie isn’t half bad. There’s some fun jokes for the adults but will still keep younger kids entertained. The audio and, especially, video are both very good while the features have more to be desired, though not surprisingly on the lean side given the picture’s box office failure.