Planet 51 (PG)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner4/12/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Despite a strong cast and a host of enjoyable movie references, Planet 51 is something of a disappointment, thanks to an extremely weak plot, a sloppy screenplay and a lamentable lack of decent laughs.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jorge Blanco, Planet 51 is an animated adventure set on an alien planet that resembles 1950s America. When US astronaut Captain Charles 'Chuck' Baker (Dwayne Johnson) makes a landing in an alien's back garden, he swiftly finds himself targeted by the green-skinned military, headed by the invasion-obsessed General Grawl (Gary Oldman).

Hoping to return to his ship before it leaves without him, Chuck enlists the reluctant help of Lem (Justin Long), a teenager who spends his days working at the planetarium and dreaming of Neera (Jessica Biel), the girl next door. As Lem and his friends attempt to hide Chuck from the military, they gradually form a bond of friendship but time is rapidly running out.

The Good
The animation is colourful and nicely designed and there are tonnes of enjoyable sci-fi references for film fans, most notably a dog called Ripley that resembles a baby version of the alien from Alien. Similarly, the cast are fine but they're all rather short-changed by an unimaginative script that's painfully low on funny lines and character comedy – something that the vaguely similar Monsters vs Aliens had in abundance.

The Bad
Unfortunately the paper-thin plot quickly runs out of steam, thanks to an unfocussed script that never really comes together. There are a couple of mildly amusing sight gags (most of which are courtesy of the Alien dog and a wheeled robot called Rover) but there's not a single laugh-out-loud moment in the whole film.

It doesn't help that the film opens with an exciting alien invasion sequence that turns out to be a ‘50s-style sci-fi movie called Humaniacs II, that the Planet 51 aliens are watching. Frankly, the filmmakers should have ditched Planet 51 and made Humaniacs II instead – it would have been a lot more fun.

Worth seeing?
Despite a strong cast and a potentially interesting set-up, there's really not much more to Planet 51 than an extended game of spot-the-film-reference. Watchable but disappointing.

Film Trailer

Planet 51 (PG)
Planet 51 has been reviewed by 2 users
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Content updated: 22/07/2019 00:15

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