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Awash in sci-fi movie and 1950’s pop-culture references, PLANET 51 ($40) is a movie that I would have to say was grossly under-appreciated during its theatrical run. One I popped the Blu-ray Disc in my player, I found myself under the spell of PLANET 51, which I turned out to be beautifully animated and really quite funny. The plot of PLANET 51 is a pastiche of paranoid 1950’s science fiction movie clichés, all of which are given a wide-eyed, but knowing spin, that have been designed to tickle fans of this particular genre. Said spin places the story of PLANET 51 on a planet that populated by little green men (and little green women), whose society resembles that of 1950’s America.

In the midst of this alien suburbia is Lem (voiced by Justin Long), a teenaged alien who has gotten a job at the local planetarium museum and has a crush on Neera (voiced by Jessica Biel), the girl next door. Lem finds his typical teen existence complicated by an alien spacecraft touching down in his backyard during a barbecue. From out of the alien spacecraft emerges NASA Astronaut Charles 'Chuck' Baker (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), who is shocked to discover this supposedly uninhabited world to be very inhabited. Of course, paranoia about an alien invasion immediately besets the community, with our NASA astronaut on the run from a typically gung ho military. While dodging the army and trying to get back to his spacecraft, Chuck manages to convince Lem that he means the people of his planet no harm. However, General Grawl (voiced by Gary Oldman) is convinced the alien intends to transform the local populace into "zombies" under extraterrestrial control, so swaying him to Chucks cause is going to be impossible. Making matters even worse for Chuck is Professor Kipple (voiced by John Cleese), the supposed "expert" on all things alien, who is determined to separate the mind-controlling alien from its brain.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made PLANET 51 available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is nothing short of superb, which is exactly how it should be. As this CGI animated film has been transferred directly from the digital files, the image on this Blu-ray release is computer-generated perfection. PLANET 51 has been beautifully textured and every bit of fine detail is readily apparent, in addition to the image delivering marvelous levels of sharpness, clarity and dimensionality. Colors are fully saturated, yet completely stable. Blacks are pitch perfect, while the whites demonstrate the same kind of straight from the computer realm perfection. Additionally, contrast demonstrates the kind of smoothness that can only be created in the digital realm. As I stated above, the presentation comes directly from the digital files, so there is no grain, nor will one find any visual imperfections in the image.

PLANET 51 is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Much of PLANET 51 is dialogue driven, but the dialogue moments are interspersed between mild comic action and chase sequences. The sound design is effective and fun, with the outlying channels keeping up with the onscreen action very well, even if the track falls just a tad shy of demo quality. Additionally, the track is nicely atmospheric and filled with plenty of little sounds that help complete the film’s sonic environments. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is terrific for the musical component, as well as the sound effects. The bass channel packs all the necessary rumble that the sound effects require. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. A German 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is also encoded onto the disc, as is an English Descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, German and Turkish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Featurettes and other programs include the following: The World Of Planet 51 (three minutes), Life On Planet 51 (twelve minutes), Planetarium: The Voice Stars Of Planet 51 (three minutes), Animation Progression Reels (sixteen minutes). A Planet 51 Music Video Montage, Extended Scenes, a game entitled Target 51, plus Bonus Trailers close out the extras.

PLANET 51 offers a funny spin on fifties sci-fi movies, as well as being beautifully animated CGI movie. The Blu-ray is gorgeous, and the best way to view PLANET 51 at home.



Planet 51 [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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