Planet 51

Release Date: November 20, 2009

Movie of the Day for Thursday, April 30, 2009
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One of these things is not like the others.

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70/169 Max Braden Lots of great sci-fi sight gags but the forced message lost me.

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Founded in 2002 by the minds behind Spanish video game developer Pyro Studios, Madrid-based computer animation studio Ilion finally releases its first feature film with Planet 51. The story seems fresh out of a mid-century pulp sci-fi anthology magazine like Planet Stories or Galaxy Magazine. Astronaut Chuck Baker (voiced by Dawyne “The Rock” Johnson) finds himself on a planet populated by green-skinned humanoid life forms with cute little pairs of antennae on their heads. These creatures are, of course, intelligent and their culture bears a striking resemblance to the idealized, suburban middle America found in 1950s sitcoms.

Planet 51 is something of a 1982 Spielberg inversion: while everyone on the planet fears the ET astronaut from NASA, he is befriended by a small boy who agrees to help him return to his ship and escape the planet. Voice talent on the project includes the odd ensemble bouquet of Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Seann William Scott, Gary Oldman and yes, John Cleese.

As this is Ilion’s first feature in the already crowded market of 3D computer animation studios, the company is in the unenviable position of having to justify its very existence with Planet 51. Judging from early press on the film, Ilion has done a remarkable job of rendering a strikingly vivid, highly developed world for the story to exist in.

The film, which is being released domestically by Sony Pictures, is written by Joe Stillman. Though Stillman had been a writer for the first two Shrek films and a few episodes of King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head, this is the first feature-length project written entirely by Stillman. As animated features usually have a number of credited writers, Stillman’s distinction as being the only writer on this film could be pretty impressive if it turns out to be any good. Sole writing credit works both ways, though - if Planet 51’s script sucks, there’s a good chance the film will tank and Stillman will be the only one to blame. (Russ Bickerstaff/BOP)

Vital statistics for Planet 51
Main Cast Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Jessica Biel, Seann William Scott
Supporting Cast Justin Long, John Cleese, Gary Oldman
Director Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad, Marcos Martinez
Screenwriter Joe Stillman
Distributor Sony/Columbia
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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