The crew at Llion Animation Studios have made a very happy reviewer out of me. Planet 51 was a passion project for Llion Animation and it shows. I’ve grown up through Disney/Warner Brothers hand drawn through CGI that looks like real(ish) people. Their animation, although CGI, gives the feel of a mixture of both. You have the feel of hand painted cells with the slight 3-D feel of CGI. The background is wonderful. The first view of the main street reminded me of Back to the Future’s, including soda shop and movie theatre. The backyard BBQ, the Observatory, so much of the town reminded me of Los Angeles of the 50’s. Then again, the residents of Planet 51 have flying cars and I’m still waiting for mine.
Captain “Chuck” Baker is on roundtrip mission to Planet 51 to explore the planet, pick up Rover the rover (whose job is to pick up rocks- what is it with NASA and collecting rocks from everywhere we go?) and come right back. However when he lands he finds out Planet 51 isn’t the barren world he was expecting: it’s our world stuck in the 1950’s. The inhabitants react to meeting him the same way we would have back then, “OMG it’s an alien”. Wait, who is the alien here, Captain Baker or them? And so the adventure begins.
As you enjoy Planet51 keep your eyes peeled for what’s going on with the in the background. I must mention two characters that stole the screen when they were on: Rover, the space exploring robot and Dog. I want Dog.
I could watch this movie over and over and see more and more elements that the animators included: shops, people, and props. Check out the comic book store, you would feel right at home. And don’t leave until after the credits finish, the Llion artists kept the 50’s feel even through the credits.
While she was recording Neera, Jessica Biel put herself in the mindset of a sixteen year old girl wanting to see how far she can push the envelope, reacting to authorities telling her what to do.
Justin Long (Lem) felt the animators really got his physical aspect in their drawing of Lem, including his gesticulating (which gave him the freedom to use his hands while recording).
This was the first time Dwayne Johnson (Captain Baker) has been involved in animation and found trying to bring a character to life using only his voice “very cool”.
All three actors agreed that they had the freedom to flesh out their characters more in animation versus live plus it gave Jessica a freedom from being tied to a makeup trailer. Jessica, Justin & Dwayne have been involved in the project for the past three years. Dwayne feels it’s important to make good family movies (he has an eight year old daughter).
Planet 51 opens on Friday, November 20th.