Planet 51 (U)

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The Independent Culture

This digimated romp nicely inverts the sci-fi norm: it's set on an "alien" planet whose green-skinned denizens live in a 1950s idyll of innocent, picket-fence conformity.

Then a flying saucer lands in the garden of 16-year-old Lem (voiced by Justin Long) and out comes an earthling "astronaut", Chuck (Dwayne Johnson), to the consternation of populace, police and military. Does he intend to enslave their planet and turn them into zombies? Nothing else proves as clever as the set-up, despite the arch references to other space-age classics (ET, Star Wars, The Right Stuff, Alien, etc). It's frenetic and knowing in the modern manner, though, a couple of good gags apart, not very funny. Its patchiness merely demonstrates the gap between Pixar and the rest of the field – which is the distance between genius and talent.

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