“Playing for Keeps” can be an entertaining rom com diversion for those who just want to sit back and enjoy, as long as you are not expecting something too deep. But because Gabriele Muccino is a director known for working on inspiring and deep films, “Playing for Keeps” felt like a step back. But I do admit that I enjoyed the film for its popcorn comedy but for the most part, the film was just average. Nothing more, nothing less.
TITLE: Playing for Keeps
FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 105 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English – Audio Descriptive Track, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (For Some Sexual Situations, Language and a Brief Intense Image)
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Directed by Gabriele Muccino
Screenplay by Robbie Fox
Produced by Gerard Butler, Heidi Jo Markel, Kevin Misher, Jonathan Mostow, Alan Siegel, John Thompson
Executive Producer: Ed Cathell III, Danny Dimbort, Avi Lerner, Trevor short
Co-Producer: Andrea Leone, Raffaella eone
Associate Producer: Danielle Robinson
Music by Andrea Guerra
Cinematography by Peter Menzies Jr.
Edited by Padraic McKinley
Casting by Denise Chamian
Production Design by Daniel T. Dorrance
Art Direction by Bob Danyla
Costume Design by Angelica Russo
Gerard Butler as George
Jessica Biel as Stacie
Noah Lomax as Lewis
Dennis Quaid as Lewis
Dennis Quaid as Carl
Uma Thurman as Patti
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Denise
James Tupper as Matt
Judy Greer as Barb
A retired soccer star attempts to rebuild the relationship with his son and ex-wife by coaching the soccer team.
From director Gabriele Muccino (“The Pursuit of Happyness”, “Seven Pounds”, “Remember Me, My Love”) and writer Robbie Fox (“In the Army Now”, “So I Married an Axe Murder”) comes the romantic comedy with an all star cast.
Starring in the film are Gerard Butler (“300″, “RocknRolla”, “The Phantom of the Opera”), Jessica Biel (“The Illusionist”, “The A-Team”, “Total Recall”), Dennis Quaid (“The Day After Tomorrow”, “Vantage Point”, “Frequency”), Uma Thurman (“Kill Bill: Vol. 1″, “Pulp Fiction”, “Gattaca”, “Batman & Robin”), Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Ocean’s Twelve”, “Chicago”, “The Terminal”) and Judy Greer (“13 Going on 30″, “What Women Want”, “Three Kings”).
And now “Playing for Keeps” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD in March 2013.
“Playing for Keeps” is about a former soccer star George Dryer (portrayed by Gerard Butler). One of soccer’s top athletes who had to retire early after a major injury.
George is moving to Virginia to be closer to his son Lewis (portrayed by Noah Lomax) but life is not going so well for George as he is unemployed, behind on rent and is trying to make money by selling all of his memorabilia. George has been practicing at home to be a sports announcer but nothing is working out as he had hoped.
Meanwhile, while trying to establish a relationship with his son, he still has feelings for his former flame and Noah’s mother Stacie (portrayed by Jessica Biel), who is getting married to her boyfriend Matt (portrayed by James Tupper), who she has been together with for three years.
George attends soccer practice for his son but notices that the coach is not at all interested and giving bad advice to the children. This leads George to go out on the field and give the children good advice on how to kick the ball, how to practice and get the children to enjoy the sport.
The children and their parents are pleased with George going out there that they begin demanding for him to be their children’s coach. At first he is not interested as he wants to focus on getting a job, but Stacie tells him to at least do something for their son, instead of just taking him to practice.
And so George becomes a coach for the soccer team and with word of a former well-known professional soccer player coaching a children’s team, many parents begin to show up to practice. He receives a cash bribe from the wealthy Carl King (portrayed by Dennis Quaid) of several thousand dollars if he allows his son to be goalie and his daughter to sing before a game. Also, the money can be used to buy the children’ new clothes and gear.
Also wanting to meet George is a divorced housewife named Barb (portrayed by Judy Greer) who wants to get closer to the coach. Ex-sportscaster Denise (portrayed by Catherine Zeta- Jones), who wants to help George get a job as a sportcaster, for a few favors. And Carl’s wife Patti (portrayed by Uma Thurman) who is unhappy with her controlling, jealous husband.
But for George, all he really wants in his life is to have his family back again and to be with Susie and his son Lewis.
“Playing for Keeps” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1). The film is primarily shot outdoors and so the outdoor scenes look very good. Skin tones are natural, colors are nice and sharp, for the most part, picture quality for this film is very good and well-detailed. I detected no aliasing or excessive DNR during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Playing for Keeps” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and includes an English – Audio Description Track. The film is primarily dialogue and music driven and is primarily a center and front-channel soundtrack. Dialogue is crystal clear as with the music by Andrea Guerra (“Hotel Rawanda”, “The Pursuit of Happyness”, “Nine”).
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.
“Playing for Keeps” come with the following special features:
- Deleted Scenes – (10:17) A total of seven deleted scenes.
- The Playbook: Making Playing for Keeps – (8:24) Producers Jonathan Mostow and Heidi Jo Markel, director Gabriele Muccino, screenwriter Robbie Fox and the cast talk about “Playing for Keeps”. From the communication and cast working with Gabriele to having the right casting.
- Creating An All-Star Team: The Cast of Playing For Keeps – (6:34) A featurette about casting the role for “Playing for Keeps”.
“Playing for Keeps” comes with an UltraViolet code which allows for one to download their film to a computer or on select Apple and Android devices and to stream to computers, tablets or smartphones.
“Playing for Keeps” is a romantic comedy that had potential considering its star power but in the end, was quite average.
When you watch Gabriele Muccino films you expect a film to be uplifting, deep and enjoyable. From films such as “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Seven Pounds”, you expect to come out of a Muccino film, feeling inspired or just feeling that you just watched something that touches your soul.
“Playing for Keeps” is a film that should have relevance in today’s society. As many athletes who squandered their millions of dollars earned and are now in significant debt, the idea of “Playing for Keeps” came when producer Jonathan Mostow was at a soccer game for his child and in Hollywood fashion, talked to another father and they discussed, what if their coach was a former professional soccer player and the idea would eventually become a film.
But as the film could have felt inspiring by showing us how a father would go at great lengths to be with his son and his mother, his former love… the film was almost like deja vu with Mel Gibson’s 2ooo film “What Women Want” and puts too much focus on female characters who want to have sex with the main protagonist.
Yes, this is the life of an athlete…being in love with one, yet having sex with many. And I ask myself several times during the film, “am I really watching a Gabriele Muccino” film?”.
A film that had potential of showing us an athlete who had suffered so much but finds redemption by being close to the people he loves, ends up to be what we see on ESPN or sports publications of athletes with faults and is able to have sex with a lot of women. We know it happens, but do we want to see it on a film that is supposed to be about a father wanting to be close to his young son and his mother, his former love?
And the fact that the film goes to length of showing how he hooks up with a divorced mother, a former sportscaster and then somehow forgetting those characters after he beds them. But then we also have a sexy but depressed wife of a wealthy business owner managing to break into his landlord’s home and his home, in hopes for a one night stand? To a father allowing his young son drive an expensive Ferrari that doesn’t belong to him. There are just so many scenes that make you wonder “why?” and did I mention, asking oneself, “am I really watching a Gabriele Muccino film?”.
For all it’s worth, the film is not terrible nor is it great. It’s an average film that plays out as a popcorn action movie that you can enjoy, as long as you don’t expect anything to deep.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality for this film looked great on Blu-ray and the lossless soundtrack featured crisp and clear dialogue and a beautiful musical score from Andrea Guerra. Special features were also fun to watch as the cast talked about how fun it was to work with director Gabriel Muccino but also difficult to understand what he is saying.
Overall, “Playing for Keeps” can be an entertaining rom com diversion for those who just want to sit back and enjoy, as long as you are not expecting something too deep. But because Gabriele Muccino is a director known for working on inspiring and deep films, “Playing for Keeps” felt like a step back. But I do admit that I enjoyed the film for its popcorn comedy but for the most part, the film was just average. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” is one of the most beautiful looking sci-fi films on Blu-ray in 2012, looks great, sounds magnificent and a good number of special features are included. But for anyone looking for something deep or thought-provoking, this is not the film. This is a film for those who love popcorn action films and beautiful sci-fi visual effects. And if you are that type of viewer, then “Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” is a Blu-ray release that I can easily recommend to you!
TITLE: Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut
FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 118 Minutes/Extended Director’s Cut: 130 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English – Audio Description Track, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: UNRATED for Extended Director’s Cut / PG-13 (Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Violence and Action, Some Sexual Content, Brief Nudity and Language)
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Directed by Len Wiseman
Screenplay by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback
Screen Story by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Jon Povill, Kirt Wimmer
Based on the Short Story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick
Produced by Toby Jaffe, Neal H. Moritz
Executive Producer: Ric Kidney, Len Wiseman
Associate Producer: Paula Kucharski
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography by Paul Cameron
Edited by Christian Wagner
Casting by Debra Zane
Production Design by Patrick Tatopoulos
Art Direction by Patrick Banister, Oana Bogdan, Brandt Gordon
Set Decoration by Carolyn “Cal” Loucks
Costume Design by Sanja Milkovic Hays
Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid/Carl Hauser
Kate Beckinsale as Lori Quaid
Jessica Biel as Melina
Bryan Cranston as Cohaagen
Bokeem Woodbine as Harry
Bill Nighy as Matthias
John Cho as McClane
Wil Yun Lee as Marek
Dylan Smith as Hammond
Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he’s got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life – real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police – controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world – Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.
From Len Wiseman (director of the “Underworld” films, “Live Free or Die Hard”) comes a remake of the the 1990 film of the same name and based on the 1966 short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K.Dick.
With the original 1990 film directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin becoming a box office success and receiving praise from film critics for its complexity as a sci-fi film, for its remake, the film was to be more of an adaptation of the original short story but instead became more of action film with beautiful, modern visual effects.
The film made over $198 million in the box office during the summer of 2012 and now, will be released on Blu-ray which will include both the theatrical version and the extended director’s cut.
“Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” takes place after World War 3 had devastated the Earth to the point that the only habitable territories is the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (Australia). Many people from the Colony work in UFB in factories traveling on a gravity elevator (known as “The Fall”). But because the UFB is ran through oppression courtesy of its UFB Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen (portrayed by Bryan Cranstone), a resistance group n the Colony that operates in the UFB are engaged in acts of terrorism against the UFB in order to improve life for the Colony.
The film begins with special agent Carl Hauser (portrayed by Colin Farrell) and his girlfriend Melina (portrayed by Jessica Biel) running away from UFB soldiers. While the two are trying to escape, a shot goes through both of their hands and while Melina has a chance to escape, Hauser is captured by the UFB and tells Melina that he will find a way to come back to her.
Fastforward and we see Hauser now known as Douglas Quaid working in the factories. He’s married to a police officer named Lori (portrayed by Kate Beckinsale) and Douglas works hard for the factory and hopes to get a promotion. Meanwhile, each night, he has these dreams of a woman who he doesn’t know and it bothers him. Meanwhile, bombings in the city of UFB are happening more and more and people are starting to fear of the resistance from the Colony.
Meanwhile, Quaid who is getting tired of his ho-hum life wants to visit a Rekall, a company that implants artificial memories. An employee recommends he visit McClaine (portrayed by John Cho) and sure enough, Quaid goes by and when discussing the kind of memories he can have, McClaine talks about how Quaid can be a secret-agent. Like how that sounds, Quaid is ready to be implanted with the new memories. But as he is being checked, McClaine realizes that Quaid is a spy. Not knowing what McClaine is talking about, the next thing you know, UFB officers raid the Rekall lab and kills everyone in sight, except Quaid.
Quaid who is scared of his life grabs one of the guns and surprisingly, kills nearly a dozen soldiers with ease. Quaid is shocked about how he has this ability and manages to escape from more soldiers who come to capture him.
As the news of the death of the UFB soldiers are being blamed by the resistance, Quaid tells his wife Lori that he killed the soldiers. But Lori tells him that he probably was implanted with fake memories from Rekall and quickly goes to give him a hug. But while the two are embracing, Lori tries to kill him and a fight between the two ensues.
Lori explains to Quaid that she is a UFB operative who was sent to be his wife six weeks ago. But Quaid tells her how can that be when they have been married for 15 years, but Lori explains it was an artificial memory implanted in him. And she was hired to be his wife and watch over him. And now, to kill him.
As Quaid and Lori fight, he manages to escape. Lori dispatches UFB soldiers to kill Quaid, despite her boss, UFB Chancelor Cohaagen telling her to keep him alive. But while on the run, he receives a call from a man named Hammond (portrayed by Dylan Smith), a Colony supporter working inside the UFB, who tells him that he is on the grid and that he received a message from him before his mind was wiped out and that it was coordinates to safe deposit box.
When Quaid goes to the box, it is equipped with passports and a neck-based device that allows him to change his facial features. And also a message that he must go to his old apartment.
Not really sure what to do next, he follows the instruction knowing the UFB are after him. While going to station in hopes to go back home, his device that changes his facial features goes on the fritz and once again, another chase between the UFB and him ensues.
He manages to escape in a freeway for air vehicles and is picked up by Melina, the woman that is in his dreams. Immediately the two are chased by Lori and the UFB and once again, Quaid barely manages to escape.
But memories are starting to come back and his dreams of playing a piano, leads him to a piano in his apartment which he begins playing with no problems. But it also activates a message left behind by Carl Hauser, explaining to Quaid that he is a special agent working with the Colony and they uncovered Cohaagen’s plot to create a robotic army to infiltrate the Colony, since the UFB is running out of space. And Hauser saw a code that would deactivate the robotic army. But he must get the code to the Resistance leader named Matthias (portrayed by Bill Nighy).
Melina then tells Quaid that she and him were lovers and explains how they were separated and both have a scar where they were both shot through the hand. For Quaid, it’s hard to believe he was a special agent and all this news is a shock to him and learning that his memories that he has are all fake.
Unfortunately, the reunion between Hauser and Melina is short as Lori and the UFB once again, have their plans to eliminate the two.
Will Hauser and Melina find a way to get the message and code to resistance leader, Matthias? Or will Lori and the UFB get to them first?
“Total Recall” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio) and while the film is primarily all visual effects and great use of green screen, on Blu-ray this film looks magnificent. If anything, I guess the best word to describe the picture quality is “perfect”. Detail is amazing, the film looks natural, close-up shots are impressive and I’m just impressed of how awesome the environments look. Black levels are nice and deep, no sign of banding, artifacts, aliasing or anything negative. “Total Recall” looks magnificent in HD!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
And as one expects from a big budget film when it comes to picture quality, lossless audio doesn’t disappoint at all. Presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital and an English Audio Description Track, the lossless soundtrack to “Total Recall” is immersive and an audiophile’s dream. With so much action featured in the film, directional audio of shootouts come from all over the soundscape and is truly immersive. Ambiance of the city and crowds are also clear and the booms, crashes and bullets striking objects and the overall chaos that happens within the city, great LFE and great use of the surround channels! Dialogue and music is crystal clear from the front and center channels and the film sounds absolutely dynamic. “Total Recall” features a fantastic lossless soundtrack! There is nothing negative about it! Like the picture quality, the lossless soundtrack is perfect!
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” comes with the following special features on two Blu-ray discs:
- Total Recall with Insight – While watching the film you will get a split screen that shows how the film was made, behind-the-scenes featurettes, art concept sketches, trivia and more! Only featured when watching the theatrical cut.
- Director’s Commentary – Featuring a very informative audio commentary by director Len Wiseman. For those who want to learn more about Wiseman’s mindset and challenges on making this film, will want to listen to this audio commentary.
- Gag Reel- (8:00) Outtakes from “Total Recall”.
- Science Fiction vs. Science Fact – (9:28) Michio Kaku, a professor of Theoretical Physics and Author of “Physics of the future” talk about the future of robots, holograms, flying vehicles and the science of “The Fall”.
- Designing the Fall – (2:55) A featurette on the film’s set and visual scenes for “The Fall”.
- Colin Farrell- (3:33) A featurette on the film’s lead actor.
- The Tripping Den- (3:18) A short featurette on the making of one of the main action sequences in the film.
- Destroying Rekall – (2:24) The making of the scene of the destruction of the Rekall Lab.
- Kate Beckinsale – (9:42) A featurette about Kate Beckinsale and her character Lori.
- Lobby Escape – (1:22) A very short featurette on the making of the key action sequence.
- Jessica Biel – (3:38) A short featurette on actress Jessica Biel and her character Melina.
- Quaid vs. Cohaagen – (3:05) A featurette about the final fighting sequence featuring Colin Farrell and Bryan Cranston’s characters.
- Stepping Into Recall: Pre-Visualization Sequences – Featuring five motion storyboards: Apartment Waterfront Chase (157), The Fall Fight (11:13), Flight and Tripping Den (4:46), Elevator chase (4:34) and Car Chase (3:27)
“Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” comes with an UltraViolet code which allows you to download the movie to your computer and select Apple and Android devices and stream to computers, tables or smartphones. Also, included is a slipcover case and both extended and director’s cut versions of the film with an extra Blu-ray disc containing the special features. Also, a video game demo for “God of War: Ascension” for the Sony PS3 is included.
I’m quite aware of the criticism “Total Recall” had received, especially when compared to the 1990 film version. But in someway, I give credit to Len Wiseman for taking on a sci-fi film which the original has its own cult following. The question was how was he going to make things different.
Giving credit to the 1990 Paul Verhoeven film, it was during a time when people were craving something new and unique. Top films of the year were “Ghost”, “Home Alone”, “Pretty Woman”, “Dances with Wolves” and for sci-fi films, it was pretty much “Total Recall” and “Back to the Future III”. With “Total Recall”, the film relied on plot, creativity and for its time, it was unique, humorous and imaginative. People loved the originality with the film and for the 2012 film, aside from using modern visual effects, it’s not going to be easy to create a better film, when the original film was so well-liked!
My approach to this 2012 version was a film created for today’s generation, using the latest in CG visual effects and creating a sci-fi world that would look even more fantastic and amazing than the original film. And for the most part, I feel that Len Wiseman and crew did accomplish that.
But one of the strong points of the original film was its plot and humor, this time around, “Total Recall” is more of a popcorn action film and it seems that for today’s cinema, it’s something that audiences continue to come out for and enjoy and move-on. When I think about this film, the original 1990 film made you want to watch it again and over 20-years-later, I have watched the 1990 version of “Total Recall” on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray a good number of times.
And with the original 1990 film, it maintained some semblance to the original short story that it takes place on Mars. This new film, there is nothing about Mars at all, nor are their aliens. The original was darker, bloodier but that’s what makes the 1990 version a sci-fi classic. The 2012 version doesn’t try to be anything like the original, it doesn’t want to be an exact remake and I like that. I tend to dislike remakes of older films but if they can maintain some semblance to the original but yet be something different, I’m all for it.
We have seen remakes or reboots with films such as “Hulk”, “Spider-Man”, “Superman”, “Karate Kid” and the list goes on and on.
But with “Total Recall”, the original was a sci-fi film was dark comedy elements, this 2012 version is a visual effects-driven, popcorn action sci-fi film. In my opinion, two different types of films.
And for those who feel that the 2012 version was dumbed down to be too action-driven, well, if you followed Len Wiseman’s films, as a director or producer, the “Underworld” films have been like that and even his earlier film “Live Free or Die Hard” has been like that. The fact is that Wiseman is a director who was hired to take on this film because of his experience in action-films. And for today’s audiences who are exposed to video games that tend to be more eye candy and short on plot, a lot of action films seem to be that way and today’s audiences are digging it.
Personally, with director Len Wiseman and the casting of Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale, I pretty much expected an action film and nothing to deep or thought-provoking. So, I came out watching this film with no negative feelings, whatsoever. I got what I expected and maybe even more with the stunning beautiful visual effects and the outstanding picture quality and lossless audio on Blu-ray.
What I enjoyed about this 2012 Blu-ray release is that you get both the theatrical and extended director’s cut edition. And for those who really want to get into the mindset of the challenges that Len Wiseman faced as a director, the audio commentary included with this Blu-ray release is worth listening to! In fact, there are a good number of special features included on this Blu-ray release, although a good number of them are quite short.
Regardless, there’s nothing to be angry or spiteful to this film because the original 1990 version is out on Blu-ray. I look at this as a film tailored to today’s audiences who want more action, more visual effects. And that’s what the audience is getting. So, if you enjoyed the original, there is a Blu-ray release for the Paul Verhoeven film available.
Overall, “Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” is one of the most beautiful looking sci-fi films on Blu-ray in 2012, looks great, sounds magnificent and a good number of special features are included. But for anyone looking for something deep or thought-provoking, this is not that type of film. This is a film for those who love popcorn action films and beautiful sci-fi visual effects. And if you are that type of viewer, then “Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” is a Blu-ray release that I can easily recommend to you!
In the last three years, there have been quite a number of reports of the demise of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel’s relationship. But now various media outlets are reporting that sources have told them that the couple have split.
UPDATE: The reps have issued a joint statement for both Timberlake and Biel. According to the statement:
Addressing the media speculation regarding Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake’s relationship, we are confirming that they mutually have decided to part ways. The two remain friends and continue to hold the highest level of love and respect for each other.
The actors Jessica Biel (L-R) and Liam Neeson pose together with director Joe Carnahan on the red carpet for photographers as he arrives for the Germany Preview of ‘The A-Team on July 29, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Steffen Kugler/Getty Images). Content © 2010 Getty Images All rights reserved.
Jessica Biel attends the UK Film Premiere of ‘The A-Team’ at Empire Leicester Square on July 27, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images). Content © 2010 Getty Images All rights reserved.
Actress Jessica Biel attends ‘The A-Team’ photocall at ME Hotel on July 26, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images). Content © 2010 Getty Images All rights reserved.
Actress Jessica Biel arrives at the premiere of 20th Century Fox’s ‘The A-Team’ held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on June 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images). Content © 2010 Getty Images All rights reserved.
Delightful! “Planet 51″ is a fun sci-fi animated film for the entire family that looks vibrant and sounds great on Blu-ray!
© 2009 Ilion Animation Studios, HandMade Films International, Antenna 3 Films, Lem Films Limited and Chuck & Lem, S.L. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Planet 51
DURATION: 91 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English, German 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, German, Turkish
COMPANY: Tri Star/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: PG (For Mild Sci-Fi Action and Some Suggestive Humor)
RELEASE DATE: March 9, 2010
Directed by Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad, Marcos Martinez
Written by Joe Stillman
Executive Producer: Mercedes Gamero, Ricardo Garcia Arrojo, Peter D. Graves, Albie Hecht, Stephen Margolis, Albert Martinez Martin, Patrick Meehan, Javier Perez Dolset, Juan Antonio Perez Ramirez, Mercedes Rey Jose A. Rodriguez, Michael Ryan
Produced by Guy Collins, Ignacio Perez Dolset
Associate Producer: Thomas D. Adelman
Music by James Seymour Brett
Edited by Alex Rodriguez
Casting by Ruth Lambert, Karen Lindsay-Stewart, Robert McGee
Production Design by Julian Munoz Romero
Art Direction by Fernando Juarez
Featuring the voices of:
Dwayne Johnson as Captain Charles T. Baker
Justin Long as Lem
Jessica Biel as Neera
Gary Oldman as General Grawl
Seann William Scott as Skiff
John Cleese as Professor Kipple
Freddie Benedict as Eckle
Alan Mariott as Glar
When Chuck the astronaut (Dwayne Johnson) lands on a distant planet filled with little green people, he is surprised to discover that we are not alone in the galaxy. But he gets the shock of his life when the residents of Planet 51 mistakenly believe that his presence is the start of an alien invasion of the human kind! Luckily, Lem (Justin Long) quickly realizes that Chuck is friendly and makes it his personal mission to help him return safely to his ship.
In Nov. 2009, the most expensive movie produced in Spain titled “Planet 51″ created by Ilion Animation Studios and HandMade Films with a screenplay by Joe Stillman (“Shrek” films) was released in the US. With a budget of $70 million, despite heavy competition from Hollywood blockbusters “New Moon” and “2012″, “Planet 51″ earned $94 million worldwide.
“Planet 51″ revolves around a world with a society of green aliens similar to the USA in the 1950′s and at the local theater, the popular sci-fi film “Humaniac” is being screened. Lem (Voiced by Justin Long) is an alien who gets a job at the Planetarium. Lem has a big crush on Neera (voiced by Jessica Biel) but each time he wants to get close to her, her hippie friend Glar is nearby and it seems that he may be trying to get close to her as well.
Meanwhile, a mysterious spacecraft which was orbiting Planet 51 is detected by “Base 9″, a hidden army base which has artifacts from planet Earth. One of the artifact, which is a rover wakes up when a signal is picked up and begins its mission to look for an astronaut and collect rocks.
The mysterious aircraft lands in Lem’s back yard and an astronaut from NASA, Charles “Chuck” Baker (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) comes out and plants the US flag on the planet. But when he looks around the planet, what was supposed to be uninhabited has homes and building where green people live and this freaks out Chuck who immediately goes into hiding.
With many people on the planet fearing aliens (due to the sci-fi films of the time such as “humaniac”, the people of Planet 51 think there is going to be an alien invasion. Immediately, General Grawl (voiced by Gary Oldman) along with Professor Kipple (voiced by John Cleese) try to gain more research studying the alien spacecraft and quarantines the area to prevent its citizens to become “zombies”.
As for Lem, while cleaning up at the planetarium, he finds Chuck in hiding and immediately the two realize they speak the same language and that Chuck is no threat. Chuck then lets Lem know that he has 74 hours to get back into his spacecraft or else the spacecraft will leave without him. Meanwhile, the NASA rover continues to look for the astronaut while evading the General’s forces and hostile citizens but yet finds a friend in Lem’s comic book geek friend Skiff (voiced by Seann William Scott) who looks at Rover as his newfound pet.
So, Chuck depends on Lem (and his friends) in hiding him temporarily and help find a way to get him back into his well-guarded spacecraft. But is it possible? Especially with General Grawl and his men ready to kill anyone who may be deemed as helping the alien (Chuck) and those who are helping him?
“Planet 51″ looks very good when it comes to details. Presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), I enjoyed the overall atmosphere created by Ilion Animation Studios. From the creation of the homes, the gates, the plants, the skies…the whole ’50s feel of the town looks quite vibrant and beautiful. But when it comes to the green citizens, there is much less detail. Although green, even Shrek is green but you can still see the spots within its skin. Not so much for the aliens of “Planet 51″, although a lot of detail can be seen in the astronaut uniform of Chuck. But overall, the animation was well-done from Ilion Animation Studios and the presentation is absolutely vibrant in HD.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Planet 51″ features audio in English and German 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Also, an English audio description track in 5.1 Dolby Digital is included. Because the film incorporates many action scenes, from the sound of the vehicles zipping through the air, Chuck’s spacecraft with its engine roaring or the hidden base opening up, there is good use of the surround channels and LFE. Dialogue and music are also clear and understandable through the center and front channels. But overall, a pretty solid lossless soundtrack!
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Spanish, German and Turkish.
“Planet 51″ comes with the following special features in High Definition with English Stereo and English with German subtitles:
- Target 51 Game - Play as Charles “Chuck” Baker in galaxy mode or survival mode. The game also comes with an optional iPhone controller App download from iTunes!
- Extended Scenes – A total of three extended scenes: A Total Disaster, When Aliens Invade, What Do Zombies Say?
- The World of Planet 51 – (2:52) Featuring the CG clips of the locations and key areas featured in the world of Planet 51.
- Life on Planet 51 – (12:04) The making of “Planet 51″ plus a look at how ILION Animation Studios in Madrid, Spain created the film.
- Planetarium – The Voice Stars of Planet 51 – (3:18) A featurette with interviews with the voice talent of “Planet 51″ including Justin Long, Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman and Sean William Scott.
- Planet 51 Music Video Montage – (2:10) A video montage of scenes from “Planet 51″ along with a song “Aliens Exist” by Blink 182.
- Animation Progression Reels – (15:53) Featuring six animated progression reels. Featuring four split screens with a pre-rendered CG clip, storyboards, and more.
- Previews – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment trailers
“Planet 51″ comes with a DVD version of the film and also a Digital Copy included on the DVD.
“Planet 51″ is a fun and entertaining sci-fi film. Although, the cold war reference, especially dealing with the fear of aliens may go over the heads of children, “Planet 51″ manages to be a film similar to E.T. but in this case, the human is the alien and for the most part, the green aliens speak perfect English. Also, the film does a good job for paying homage to various sci-fi films such as “Alien”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Star Wars”, “Terminator”, etc. If anything, the humor of the cold war, especially classic and current sci-fi films will easily make fans of the genre quite appreciate of the film.
While, the human “Chuck” is more of a guy that is all talk and makes himself out as a guy who has “the right stuff”, Lem has been the alien guy who really never stood for himself and has had his share of low self-esteem. Through helping Chuck and overcoming a variety of obstacles, we see how Lem begins to feel more comfortable with himself and eventually, using his new-found self-esteem to get closer to his dream girl Neera.
Despite the film not receiving the greatest reviews, “Planet 51″ is a CG-animated film that may not have any deep overtones but there is really cool CG animation when it comes to the actual living areas. The detail is quite beautiful on Blu-ray and the lossless soundtrack is quite awesome as well. The Blu-ray has a good number of special features as well. And if you are a parent looking for a fun and safe film for the kids while going on a trip, the Blu-ray release does include a DVD and also a digital copy as well.
Overall, “Planet 51″ is a good movie and I think those who are able to pick up on the jokes of the film will enjoy some of its slapstick humor. The film has enough gags to please the children (as my seven year old who watched it in the theater and once again with me on Blu-ray was giggling throughout) but anyone expecting anything more or anything deep may be disappointed. But in the end, I was quite satisfied with the film overall.
Jessica Biel. Valentine’s Day Los Angeles Premiere held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Photo Credit: Michael Jade/AdMedia. Content © 2010 AdMedia All rights reserved.
Actors Jessica Biel (L) and Dwayne Johnson arrive at the premiere of Sony Pictures’ ‘Planet 51′ at the Village Theater on November 14, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Content © 2009 Getty Images All rights reserved.