• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Planet 51

TITLE: Planet 51

YEAR: 2009

Genre: Animation, Science Fiction and Family

The new millennium is turning into a golden age for animated films, but the problem is that with the glut of family CGI animated products being released not every film can be a stellar movie. What is even worse is that a film that could have been considered wonderful ten years ago is now a bit clichéd and standard fare. This is where a unique story that is compelling and original comes into play, as amazing special effects and realistic animation is now standard and expected by fans forking out $10 or more to see a film in the theaters. Planet 51 is a great looking film, but the storyline is fairly run-of-the-mill and the finished film does little to help it stand out among the barrage of family friendly animated films.

A serene bunch of green snail-like inhabitants with large ears live on Planet 51 which strangely resembles the United States of the 1950’s. In the small town of Glipford, Lem (voiced by Justin Long) is the typical teenager: just hired for a part-time job cleaning the local observatory, hanging out with his comic book obsessed friend Skiff (Seann William Scott), and having a crush on his cute neighbor Neera (Jessica Biel). Lem’s life is starting to look up when an alien spaceship lands in his backyard containing Captain Chuck T. Baker (Dwayne Johnson), an astronaut from Earth. Chuck is not prepared for an inhabited planet, and the paranoid culture he is visiting believes that he is out to destroy their idyllic little world and control their brains, just like in the movies. Chuck must escape, but with the government and military hot on his tail and his spaceship hidden in a secret military establishment called Base 9 the odds are against his return to his home. Lem and Skiff know they must help Chuck return to his planet and embark in a great adventure to bring the extra-terrestrial human back to his world.

Planet 51 is an acceptable adventure but unfortunately does not break new ground in its story. The parodying of 1950’s society is an easy target and is funny at times although a bit stereotypical in its approach. The unique element of hipsters and pre-hippies is brought into the mix with the protests and the long haired guitar playing of Glar (Alan Marriott), but the problem is that every time Glar comes out and sings one of those incredibly annoying protest songs of his I wish I was a 1960’s police officer so I could turn a fire hose on the long-haired schmuck. In addition a huge chunk of change was spent on big name stars such as Johnson andBielwhen they really added little to the fairly bland characters and in my opinion was cash wasted as more traditional voice-over actors could have added more to the characters. The lampooning of famous sci-fi offerings such as ET: The Extra-Terrestrial and Aliens (the acid-urinating dog was funny) was done much better a few months before in the release of Monsters vs. Aliens. In addition, the ending of the film was cliche and expected as one would expect from a family film that requires a happy ending.

Planet 51 was originally conceived in Spain and at $70 million it was by far the largest financial risk in Spanish film history. The risk was a good one as the film made $105 million worldwide in its theatrical release and a few additional million in its DVD release. Planet 51 is an acceptable film for kids and the little ones will love the peeing alien dog and enjoy the adventure, but more mature science fiction fans will leave Planet 51 wanting more than is presented. Planet 51 is by no means a terrible film, but there is nothing special about the finished product either.

* * 1/2

–Mark

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