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Planet 51

Planet 51

Planet 51

Planet 51 is a 2009 English-language Spanish/British animated science fiction/family 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. Produced by Madrid-based Ilion Animation Studios and HandMade Films, it was originally acquired for U.S. distribution by New Line Cinema, but then sold to Sony before it was completed. Planet 51 was released on November 20, 2009, by TriStar Pictures. It was originally titled Planet One. Produced on a budget of $70 million, Planet 51 is the most expensive film produced in Spain.

Planet 51 Plot

On Planet 51, green humanoids with snail-like feelers and pointed ears live peacefully in a society reminiscent of 1950s America, but with alien technology and with 1950s themed space-ships and alien homes. In the town of Glipforg, Lem (Justin Long) is a teenage boy with a new part-time job at the local planetarium and a long-time crush on his neighbor Neera (Jessica Biel). His best friend is Skiff (Seann William Scott), a big fan of the Humaniacs films. At a barbecue Neera's family is having, Lem tries to ask her on a date; her hippie friend, Glar, keeps interrupting with his protest songs.

Just then, a mysterious spacecraft goes into orbit around Planet 51 and sends out a signal. On Planet 51, under a secret Army installation called Base 9 (their version of Area 51), there is a basement filled with Earth artifacts including robotic satellites launched by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The spacecraft's signal activates Rover, a wheeled A.I. probe. Rover escapes, following a program to locate the newly arrived astronaut. The Planetary Army becomes suspicious after Rover's escape and begins to investigate.

The mysterious spacecraft touches down in the backyard; NASA astronaut Charles "Chuck" Baker (Dwayne Johnson) emerges. As Chuck plants the U.S. flag, he steps on a "rubber ducky" someone left on the ground. Everyone stares, and Chuck tries to get back into his module. Eckle is in his way, eager for an autograph. Shocked when he realizes he is on an inhabited planet, Chuck runs about wildly and hides at the planetarium as the Army arrives on the scene. Planetary Army General Grawl (Gary Oldman) consults Professor Kipple (John Cleese) about the "alien invader." The Army quarantines the area and asks citizens start a local civil defense force to prevent the citizens from becoming "zombies."

At the planetarium, Lem discovers Chuck's hiding place. They are surprised to discover they speak the same language. Realizing this alien is no threat, Lem decides to help Chuck, hiding him in his bedroom for the night. Rover finds Chuck, who is very happy to see it. As the General and his men search Lem's room, the group sneaks back into the planetarium with Chuck, who tells Lem he has "the right stuff". Chuck also shows Lem the star that Earth orbits and how the universe is much bigger than Lem had thought. The next morning, the Army takes Chuck's module to a secret location.

The next night is the premičre of a new "Humaniacs" movie; and Lem, Skiff, and Chuck attend in costumes as fans. Chuck introduces some new music as part of the contest and teaches Lem to dance. Things go well until Rover arrives: chaos ensues. General Grawl arrives and points out Chuck's United States Flag insignia is a dead giveaway that he isn't a local. Chuck is captured and unmasked. When Lem tries to keep him from being taken away, General Grawl labels Lem a zombie, and Professor Kipple announces he will dissect both their brains. To protect Lem, Chuck pretends to "release" him from his control. Lem is proclaimed a hero, and Chuck and Rover are taken away.

At Base 9, General Grawl interrogates Chuck, and an accidental gunshot starts a complicated chain reaction with soldiers shooting at each other. General Grawl thinks Chuck is resisting his demands and allows Professor Kipple to have a go at dissecting Chuck's brain. Lem gets his job back at the planetarium and is permitted to speak about the incident on TV, but he cannot truly accept the honor. He feels terrible about Chuck and decides to do the right thing. While he's hot-wiring a car, Neera, Skiff, and Eckle join him to go off to rescue Chuck. The teens know luck is on their side when Rover shows up on the edge of town—he unscrewed the bolts holding together the armored vehicle in which he was imprisoned.

Rover sniffs out Chuck's trail and leads them to an abandoned gas station in the desert. They look around, and Skiff sees a soda bottle in an old refrigerator. When he tries to take it, it opens up the entrance to Base 9. Lem has Glar distract the soldiers guarding the base with his protest group while the rest of them sneak into the base. They find Chuck strapped to a laboratory table, and Professor Kipple getting ready to remove his brain. Lem and his friends break in through the ceiling while Rover scares away the scientists, technicians, and guards. They release Chuck but set off alarms.

Rover helps the group find Chuck's spacecraft, which was in a hangar. General Grawl warns that, if the "alien" tries to leave, the hangar will blow up. The "alien" does try to leave and, in the resulting firestorm, the General is knocked unconscious. Most of the soldiers flee. The teenagers and Rover get into the module, but Chuck rescues the General from the fire. Chuck pilots the ship into orbit around the planet, allowing the teens to experience outer space. Skiff and Eckle enjoy the weightlessness; General Grawl realizes Chuck hasn't turned him into a zombie; and Lem asks Neera out on a date. Chuck returns to the planet's surface. Although the soldiers are ready to shoot anyone who appears, the General stops them. Finally, the inhabitants of Planet 51 see that Chuck came to their planet for peaceful purposes. Chuck lets Rover stay with Skiff and says his farewells to Planet 51. Chuck then leaves Planet 51 peacefully, accompanied by the pet dog that is owned by an alien seen throughout the film (Xenomorph alien), who had sneaked aboard his ship.

During the credits, Professor Kipple emerges from a manhole cover and faces two former patients who drag him off, telling him that he will "love" brain surgery.

Reception
The film has received mixed, but mostly negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 22% of critics gave Planet 51 positive reviews based on 103 reviews with an average score of 4.2/10. Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating from 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, gave it an average score of 39% based on 19 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 2˝ 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 Brain Miller of Village Voice acknowledged Planet 51 as "an E.T. in reverse".


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