Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Planet 51

I wasn’t expecting a lot from the new animated release Planet 51, and that is exactly what I got, not a lot, but not bad either. One would think the voice talent in Planet 51 along with the story by Joe Stillman would lead to a exciting animated tale. Stillman has given us some great animated stories in the past such as Shrek and Shrek 2, along with episodes from King of the Hill, but even with the voice talents this movie just falls short.

Planet 51 comes with an interesting and fun story concept; a planet on the other side of the galaxy has a visitor with a strange alien. The alien happens to be Captain Charles T. Baker from the United States of America and voiced by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. He is eventually befriended by a young teenager named Lem played by Justin Long. Lem is at a stage of his life where he is starting a job and finally getting enough courage to go after a girl friend he likes, Neera voiced by Jessica Biel. Along the way, the two characters both learn about each other and ultimately themselves. In a world where the aliens, (humans) are seen as such potentially dangerous beings the world doesn’t know how to take those, fear rules the day. Leading the way in the fear category is General Crawl voiced by Gary Oldman, and the evil little scientist Professor Kipple voiced by John Cleese. These two see the aliens, (humans) as brain eating zombies and Charles Baker soon finds himself running for his life and hoping to get on his spaceship to return home and prevent certain death.

There are some terrific opportunities to address important themes in movies like this; Planet 51 succeeds quite well in some of those. Among those is the need to get to know people prior to passing judgment. We see this not only from an individualistic perspective but from a societal perspective. We see not only individuals change but a society that is willing to change. We are often so quick to pass judgment and seek our wisdom from the wrong sources. There are also the challenges of growing up that are addressed quite nicely. There is something else about Planet 51 that I appreciated, which is the theme of loyalty, even at the point of sacrifice. Each character, as they come to understand who they are comes to a point where they are willing to make sacrifices for others. Of course prior to making ones own decision there comes a time when those individuals have to think as opposed to just taking for granted either what society, the military or so called scientists happen to promote. It is often those individuals involved in the decision making process that in reality, do the greatest harm to society and the real opportunity to progress. We also see that sometimes, issues of faith, and science can come together, that is as long as any one side don’t fight against the honest and true search for meaning, and reality.

Planet 51 is a movie that had a lot of potential, there are some nice themes that are addressed but unfortunately it failed to deliver. There is also an incredible sound track to this film that is worth having with some great oldies and a few new tunes that are quite enjoyable. It wasn’t so much the story, the story and the humor came through. There are enough tributes to other films like Aliens, ET, Wall-E, and even some for adults like Singing in the Rain, American Graffiti and more, but the direction seems to provide little inspiration to the voice talents in the film, as a result, Planet 51 falls as flat as the old theories of a flat earth. That is a shame because while Planet 51 is a fun, cute film it could have been an exceptional film. Unfortunately, not only will the kids, but likely the adults find moments where they are bored and wanting more. With the cast, story, and animation in this movie, one would think that you would almost have to work to bring about a lackluster film, but that is exactly what we have, a seemingly uninspired, lackluster film.

On a Scale of 1 – 10, Planet 51 is a fun movie, in fact if you take that 51 and add it up you come up with the rating I give this film, a enjoyable but just a tad better than average 6

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