Reviews: Planet 51


Planet 51...Ugh, what can I say? This movie has a decent start to it- sort of like the beginning of "The Concrete Mixer" by Ray Bradbury. The plot seems...decent, at least at the beginning, you can feel a sort of "That's totally what we would do" vibe, with the whole "Shoot first, ask questions later" mentality towards the astronaut. And then he talks, and it all goes downhill from there. I know Lem is supposed to be likable, but honestly, by the end of the film, I despised every single character. This film is one of those films that seems to rely entirely on pop culture references for humor. Want a drinking game that will kill you? Take a shot every time you want to punch the astronaut in the face. All the "jokes" if you can call them that, fall flat, the characters are unlikable, and...Do I even need to mention Glar? While his character is annoying, Lem HATING Glar is something that needs to be explained? Even the getting crap past the radar jokes add nothing to the film. The only character I even liked was the little rover thing, and even that thing in all its adorableness didn't really help the film. A lot of the plot is very boring, and it makes use of an excessive amount of cliches, and I can never tell if it's ironic or not. Every time Lem acts like a jerkass, I can't tell if it's ironic or not. Some moments are mildly enjoyable, like the whole "Greased Lightning" dance sequence like in Grease, but even that is pulled off in an incredibly mediocre way. I know it's supposed to be based on '50s alien movies, but if you want entertainment, watch those instead of this weaksauce piece of crap. At least those have a sort of enjoyable campiness to them, this abomination of American cinema doesn't even have that.

Decently enjoyable family film

On the surface, this film looks to be more or less a Gary Larson gag stretched out over the course of an entire film. But in reality... that's... not far from the truth, really. But it's decidedly better than it sounds, provided you have an appreciation for 50's sci-fi films in the first place. The paranoia and xenophobia are extremely over the top, but like so many other things, this is done deliberately to invoke the kind of xenophobia films of that era tended to have. In essence, Planet 51 is a mixture of 50's B-movie parody, 80's buddy alien film, and a whole lot of role reversal.

In actuality, while the role reversal element is played up, it's not the only thing to hold up the movie. Indeed, one could swap the aliens with the humans and you'd still have a decent George Lucas Throwback/parody. The characters fall into archetypes, but manage to be reasonably likable, provided the slapstick doesn't turn you away.

All in all, this is the kind of film best reserve for family night, or for those who have a taste for the genre. But for that demographic, it's definitely worth a look.