Canadian theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jorge Blanco|
|Produced by||Ignacio Pérez Dolset|
|Screenplay by||Joe Stillman|
|Story by||Jorge Blanco|
Ignacio Pérez Dolset
Seann William Scott
|Music by||James Brett|
|Edited by||Alex Rodriguez|
|Distributed by||DeAPlaneta Distribución|
Entertainment Film Distributors
|Box office||$105.6 million|
Planet 51 is a 2009 3D computer-animated science fiction comedy film directed by Jorge Blanco, written by Joe Stillman, and starring Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman, Seann William Scott and John Cleese. An international co-production by Spanish, British and American companies, and produced by Madrid-based Ilion Animation Studios and HandMade Films, the film was originally acquired for North American distribution by New Line Cinema, but then sold to Sony Pictures before completion.
Originally titled Planet One, the film was completed on a $70 million budget, which, as of 2010, was the most expensive film produced in Spain. Planet 51 was released on November 20, 2009 by TriStar Pictures.
On Planet 51[N 1], green extraterrestrials live peacefully in a society reminiscent of the United States during the 1950s. One day, a mysterious landing module lands in the town of Glipforg. NASA[N 2] astronaut Charles T. "Chuck" Baker emerges from it and is shocked to find the planet inhabited. Chuck escapes to the town's planetarium, where he meets teenage alien Lem, who works there part-time. Realizing Chuck is not a threat, Lem agrees to help return him to his spacecraft before command module Odyssey in Planet 51's orbit departs for Earth and leaves him stranded. Planet 51's army, led by the paranoid General Grawl, arrives to inspect the spacecraft. Grawl, after Chuck's MP3 player is accidentally started[N 3], deduces that the astronaut is an alien invader bent on turning planet's population into zombies, and a manhunt ensues throughout Glipforg.
Lem enlists the help of his best friend Skiff, a science fiction aficionado with conspiracy theories about the so-called "Base 9", to hide Chuck away from the army. During his efforts to conceal Chuck, Lem inadvertently upsets his neighbor and crush Neera, who believes the alien is friendly, and is also fired from his job when his boss discovers Chuck. In Lem's room, Chuck reunites with a dog-like NASA probe called Rover, which freed itself from the army's base after tracking Chuck with a GPS and headed for the city and which befriends a small, domesticated Xenomorph. After the army searches Lem's home for traces of the alien, Lem and Skiff move Chuck to a comic book store Skiff works at, where Glipforg's news station manages to capture Chuck acting out references to Earth's pop culture, which is misinterpreted as alien threats. After escaping the store from the invading army, Grawl has Chuck's spacecraft moved to a secret location. Chuck is later captured by Grawl's forces during a festive movie premiere in town, and is slated to have his brain removed by alien scientist Professor Kipple. When Lem defends Chuck, Kipple deems him a zombie minion. Chuck, resigned to his fate, pretends to release Lem from his "mind control" and is taken away with Rover to Base 9, which Grawl inadvertently reveals.
Lem gets his job back, but is determined to rescue Chuck. Joined by Skiff, Neera, her younger brother Eckle, and Rover (who escaped the army again), Lem tracks down Base 9's location in the desert to a gas station where Skiff inadvertently opens a gate to the underground base. They free Chuck from Professor Kipple and find his spacecraft, but they are cornered by Grawl and his forces. Bent on eliminating Chuck, Grawl reveals has the base rigged to explode. Lem tricks the General into activating the countdown. Enraged, Grawl attempts to shoot Lem, but misses and the stray bullet ignites an explosive, causing Grawl to be trapped under debris. Chuck rescues Grawl before launching his spacecraft into Planet 51's orbit, escaping Base 9's destruction. After admiring Planet 51's view from space, Lem successfully asks Neera out on a date, while Grawl expresses his gratitude to Chuck for saving him. Chuck returns his friends home and allows Rover to stay behind with Skiff, who has connected with the probe, and bids Lem and the rest of Glipforg farewell before launching back into space, but the last seconds of the film reveal that the little Xenomorph befriended by Rover is on board.
- Justin Long as Lem Kerplog, a teenage boy living on Planet 51. Justin Long also voices Rover.
- Jessica Biel as Neera, a teenage girl and Lem's love interest.
- Dwayne Johnson as Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker, a NASA human astronaut from Minnesota.
- Freddie Benedict as Eckle, Neera's younger brother who is a huge fan of the "Humaniacs" comic books and movies, but films are strictly forbidden by his mother fro watching them.
- Gary Oldman as General Grawl, afraid of an alien invasion and is convinced that Chuck is an evil, mind-controlling alien who turns people into "alien zombies".
- John Cleese as Professor Kipple, a phony scientist on Planet 51, determined to study Chuck's brain.
- Seann William Scott as Skiff, Lem's best friend, who works at a comic store.
- Mathew Horne as Soldier Vesklin, a gullible soldier.
- James Corden as Soldier Vernkot, a gullible soldier.
- Alan Marriott as Glar, a ukulele-playing hippie.
Planet 51 is based on the original idea by Jorge Blanco, Marcos Martínez, Ignacio Pérez Dolset and Javier Abad. The film finished production by June 2009.
The name change from Planet One to Planet 51 was a result of the demands made from another entity branded Planet One, which produces children and teen TV programmes. They made contact with the film's producers early on to resolve the trademark and brand confusion issues. The Spanish film company made an offer to Planet One for all ownership rights to their "Planet One" trademarks and related website URLs. Planet One chose not to take that offer and to protect their brand and trademarks that have been active for many years. As a result, the film's producers chose to rename the film Planet 51. This is a reference to the high top secret military base Area 51 where conspiracy theorists claim that data and specimens from a space alien landed on Earth in 1947 are stored.
Lem was named by screenwriter Joe Stillman after Polish science fiction writer Stanisław Lem. Since the film was intended to be a parody of American pulp science fiction shot in Eastern Europe, Stillman thought it would be hilarious to hint at the writer whose works have nothing to do with little green men  (Stanisław Lem is known to be highly critical towards American science fiction). LEM was also the acronym for the part of the Apollo spacecraft that landed on the moon, Lunar Excursion Module.
In November 2007, New Line Cinema had picked up the United States distribution rights; the studio itself was to release the film in the summer of 2009. However, TriStar Pictures became the film's home after New Line Cinema sold the rights to them through Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group. According to the Variety magazine, New Line Cinema's owner, Warner, "decided to let the pic go after the producers insisted on a November release, when Warner is releasing its sixth Harry Potter pic." The new distributor moved the U.S release date from the summer of 2009 to November of that year.
The film was released in 3,035 cinemas, grossing $3.2 million on its opening day and $12.6 million over the weekend, resulting in the number four position at the box office behind 2012, The Blind Side and The Twilight Saga: New Moon respectively. During its theatrical run, it made over $42 million, with a total of $105 million worldwide.
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 22% of critics gave Planet 51 positive reviews based on 108 reviews with an average score of 4.2/10. The site's consensus reads: "Planet 51 squanders an interesting premise with an overly familiar storyline, stock characters, and humor that alternates between curious and potentially offensive." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, gave it a metascore of 39, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews" , based on 21 reviews.
Adam Markovitz of Entertainment Weekly graded the film a B, as it "delivers a few pleasant surprises, including a smart story". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave 2½ stars out of 4 and positively wrote of the film being "perfectly pleasant as kiddie entertainment, although wall-to-wall with pop references to the American 1950s." However, some critics such as Markovitz, Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Brian Miller of The Village Voice acknowledged Planet 51 as "an E.T. in reverse".
|Artios Award||Outstanding Achievement in Casting - Animation Feature||Ruth Lambert and Robert McGee||Nominated|
|Cinema Writers Circle Awards||Best New Artist||Jorge Blanco||Won|
|European Film Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad and Marcos Martínez||Nominated|
|Goya Awards||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Best Original Song||Tom Cawte For the song "Stick It to the Man"||Nominated|
|Released||10 November 2009 (digital)|
17 November 2009 (CD)
|Label||Decca Label Group|
|2.||"Long Tall Sally"||John Sloman||2:10|
|3.||"Tried To Save the World"||Tom Cawte||3:49|
|4.||"Ding Ding a Boom Boom"||Keith Murrell||2:25|
|5.||"Gonna Be a Star"||Tom Cawte||3:35|
|6.||"Be Bop a Lula"||Chris Cawte||3:01|
|7.||"Greased Lightnin'"||Lance Ellington||3:10|
|8.||"Unchained Melody"||Keith Murrell||3:37|
|9.||"Mr. Sandman"||Peter Gosling||2:30|
|10.||"Stick It to the Man"||Tom Cawte||3:29|
|11.||"Space Oddity"||Keith Murrell||5:19|
|12.||"Planet 51 Orchestral Suite"||London Metropolitan Orchestra||7:19|
A video game based on the film was announced in November 2009. The game was published by Sega and was released on Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360 on 17 November 2009. The console versions was developed by Pyro Studios and the Nintendo DS version was developed by Firebrand Games. Zed Group, a long-time customer of Trinigy's, worked on the online version of the game with the Vision Engine. There are also Planet 51 games for iPhone, mobile devices and Facebook, developed by Zed Worldwide, which belongs to the Ilion's owner's brother.
- The name is never mentioned in the film, but the title suggests it is named "Planet 51".
- Although the NASA logo is shown in the film, posters and covers show a fictional "Space Agency" logo.
- This scene is probably inspired to the scene of Back to the Future in which "Darth Vader from planet Vulcan" pretends to fuse 1955 George McFly's brain with a walkman playing Van Halen.
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