Blu-ray
Rent it
3 stars
List Price
$14.99
Amazon
$9.99 (33%)
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$4.99
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Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
1.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
1 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent it

Planet 51

Street Date:
March 9th, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
March 9th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Sony Pictures
Length:
91 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Stepping out of his spacecraft, Chuck the Astronaut slowly walks down a dirt path in his space suit, ready to plant an American flag on a new planet. He's stunned when he is instead greeted by the surprised faces of green people living in the suburbs, grilling up hamburgers. After this opening sequence it's hard not to wonder, what in the world was Chuck looking at when his spacecraft was touching down? Did he not see the houses and perfectly manicured grass? As a matter of fact, if humans are able to travel through space to other planets billions of miles away, then it would be reasonable to surmise that they would also have the ability to tell if an entire planet was inhabited by an alien race living in cities and human-like houses, right? Sadly, this film isn't that smart.

'Planet 51' has taken a setup with a ton of promise and completely squandered it in order to produce a dull, unfunny, uninteresting cartoon full of ridiculous mayhem and flat-lined jokes. After Chuck (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) lands, he's immediately hunted down by the planet's military, because here humans are the aliens, and the green people have it in their heads that humans will eat their brains.

Chuck soon meets up with friendly Lem (voiced by Justin Long) who helps him try and escape the clutches of the evil General Grawl (voiced by Gary Oldman). Lem informs Chuck that they too speak English on this distant planet, what luck! They do, however, for some ridiculous reason, end up misreading a Twix wrapper dropped by Chuck. Yes this is the type of intelligence on display here. Also, for some reason that is never really made clear, this alien world may actually be stuck in a 1950s time warp. The many odd similarities between American Earth Culture and this culture are just astounding.

Adults will be bored with this movie. Movies like 'Up' and 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' can be enjoyed by adults and children alike since they work on multiple levels. Kids, well they'll probably love it, but not as much as the Pixar films. I'm a firm believer that even kids can tell a slight difference between a colorfully animated movie with a solid story as opposed to a colorfully animated movie with a moronic one. Sadly I didn't have my niece and nephew here to screen this one with me as I often do with many of the other children-centric titles I review, but I think I'm safe in saying that kids will enjoy 'Planet 51' enough to keep them occupied for an hour or so.

Here's the dilemma, 'Planet 51' by all accounts is a boring, badly written, and terribly executed film, which haphazardly tries to attract adults with its odd 50s references, but I think in the end kids will enjoy it. They'll enjoy the slapstick violence and energetic chase scenes. They'll love the alien that acts like a dog, but has acid-like pee that erodes whatever it urinates on. They'll drool over the shiny bright colors and the alien people who look as if they've all been created in a Play-Doh machine and then had unripe bananas stuck to their heads for hair. My point is, kids will want to watch this over and over, and if you're getting it for your kids then it's probably a good call. The problem may arise if you have to repeatedly watch it with them, as you may find yourself wishing you were one billion miles away, stabbing yourself in the head with an unripe banana.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

As is to be expected with a modern CG film, the video presentation appears to be pretty much perfect. 'Planet 51's 1080p/AVC encoded transfer is a near flawless presentation of bright colors and detailed animation. While I'm personally not a fan of the animation of the aliens with their extremely unexpressive mouths, technically this film looks like a CG animated film should. Colors are all perfectly rendered. They may even be pumped up the slightest bit for kids. There are no digital artifacts or anomalies to report. It's shiny, colorful, and slick. It looks great in HD and contains that same 3D depth and feel seen in Pixar films.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack accompanying 'Planet 51' is nicely constructed, offering an encompassing sound field, but it isn't overly irritating to adult ears (except for the actual "jokes" of course). This audio presentation is more than enough to keep the kids entertained for the duration of its runtime. Dialogue is clearly intelligible through the center speaker. Panning effects, like helicopters whirling around in the sky (yes, even aliens fly in helicopters) smoothly transition from speaker to speaker giving a very natural sound to everything going on. LFE is constantly present during intense chase scenes and numerous explosions. While this isn't the absolutely immersive, bombastic experience you get from a movie like 'Monster's Inc.' it's still a presentation that will keep the kids more than entertained, and that's really all you can ask for from a title like this.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Extended Scenes (HD, 3 min) – Much like the set visit feature on 'A Wall•E,' this feature takes us on an un-narrated tour of 'Planet 51's numerous CG sets.
  • Life on 'Planet 51' (HD, 12 min) – Covering everything from the voice acting, to the storyboards, to the final animation, this featurette is your basic making-of piece that comes standard nowadays. A lot of promotional stuff is thrown in here too.
  • Planetarium - The Voice Stars of 'Planet 51' (HD, 3 min) – More promo fluff this time starring some of the voice actors who are really doing a 3 minute commercial for 'Planet 51.'
  • 'Planet 51' Music Video Montage (HD, 2 min) – Another music video on a CG animated title? Inconceivable (insert sarcastic emoticon here). What I don't understand is the choice to feature music from The Killers and Blink 182. Because young kids listen to those bands a lot (insert confused emoticon).
  • Animation Progression Reels (HD, 16 min) – This is the only feature even remotely worth watching in this whole lot. It breaks up a few animated scenes from the movie and shows you exactly what goes into animating them. From rough drawings to final rendered CG animation, it's an interesting process.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • Target 51 (HD) – What would a movie filled with aliens and spaceships be without the inclusion of a game where you zap asteroids and other like objects as you try to bring a spaceship safely to its destination?

Final Thoughts

So, as a parent you'll be bored stiff. This is one of those films you put on as an electronic babysitter, and not so much as a way to spend some quality family time with your kids. Both the audio and video are impressive and will likely keep children entertained for the duration. But, the question is, why would you have your kids watch this when they could easily watch a much superior animated film like 'Up,' or the upcoming 'Fantastic Mr. Fox?' Rent it first and see how the kids react. There's just no reason to own this.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc
  • DVD/Digital Copy Combo

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 German
  • Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, Spanish, German, Turkish

Supplements

  • Planetarium - The Voice Stars of Planet 51
  • Extended scenes
  • The World of Planet 51 - explore the sights and sounds of Planet 51
  • Featurette: Life On Planet 51
  • Music video montage
  • Animation progression reels

Exclusive HD Content

  • Target 51 Game

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

List Price
$14.99
Amazon
$9.99 (33%)
3rd Party
$4.99
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»