Planet 51 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not on a par with the best animated Blu-rays, the film still looked terrific.
Sharpness was usually excellent, as most of the movie exhibited fine clarity and delineation. However, some wide shots looked a smidgen soft. These examples were far from being problematic, but I expected virtually flawless definition, and that didn’t occur; while I found a lot of stunning shots, these weren’t constant. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. Source defects also failed to materialize in this clean presentation.
Colors looked great. With its alien environment, the movie boasted a broad palette, and the hues consistently came across as vivid and dynamic. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed clear and full. I wish the transfer had been a little more precise, but it was consistently quite good and usually bordered on great.
I also felt very pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Planet 51. An action-comedy that didn’t skimp on the “action” side of things, all of the space and battle shenanigans ensured that the mix offered plenty of involving material. The chaos filled out the spectrum in an active, involving manner that created a lot of exciting audio.
All five channels featured plenty of unique elements, and they fit together in a fine manner. Even quieter scenes used the soundscape in a satisfying manner. Music featured nice stereo imaging, and we found plenty of localized dialogue.
Audio quality also was very good. Speech seemed crisp and distinctive, as I noticed no flaws like edginess. Music seemed warm and full, while effects added a real bang to the proceedings. Those elements showed good clarity and accuracy, and they offered tight, deep bass as well. The track seemed vibrant and dynamic as it accentuated the movie in a satisfying manner.
We find a smattering of extras here. The Target 51 Game lets you select a three-stage “Galaxy Mode” or a points-based “Survival Mode”. These involve basic point and click motions with the remote. None are vaguely entertaining; they’re more likely to leave you with a sore wrist.
Three Extended Scenes last a total of two minutes, 50 seconds. These include “A Total Disaster” (1:03), “When Aliens Invade” (0:55) and “What Do Zombies Say?” (0:52). As you can tell from the running times, none of these extended scenes have been elongated by much. They provide a few minor additions, none of which do anything to substantially alter them. They do come with finished animation, which is a nice surprise, as most animated deleted sequences remain in story reel form.
A short film called The World of Planet 51 fills two minutes, 54 seconds. It’s a stretch for the package to call this a “short film”, as it actually just shows us the movie’s virtual sets accompanied by music. It’s a cool way to see the “locations”, though.
Two featurettes follow. Life on Planet 51 goes for 12 minutes, four seconds and offers notes from writer Joe Stillman, co-directors Javier Abad and Marcos Martinez, director of technology Gonzalo Rueda, lighting director Javier Romero, animation/layout supervisor Fernando Moro, crowds animation supervisor Charlie Ramos, director Jorge Blanco, and actors Dwayne Johnson, Justin Long, Jessica Biel, Seann William Scott, and Gary Oldman. “Life” looks at story and characters, cast and performances, animation and visual design.
Though the program adopts a decidedly promotional bent, it still manages to throw out some interesting notes. I like the few minutes of technical material, and the actors contribute some decent insights. Don’t expect much and you’ll be content with this moderately engaging piece.
For the three-minute, 18-second Planetarium: The Voice Stars of Planet 51, we hear from Long, Biel, and Johnson. They just give us banal notes about the story and characters. Skip it.
A Planet 51 Music Video Montage runs two minutes, 11 seconds. This mixes movie clips with some score and songs. Why? I don’t know, but it’s not interesting.
Under Animation Progression Reels, we find six segments that last a total of 15 minutes, 53 seconds. Each of these divides the screen into quadrants to show the various stages of scene completion. These allow us a nice glimpse of the different levels of work done to execute an animated film.
A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Open Season 3 and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. These also appear under Previews along with promos for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, Open Season, Open Season 2, and Surf’s Up. No trailer for Planet 51 shows up here.
Finally, a second platter provides two elements. It gives us a Digital Copy of the flick as well as a DVD Copy of Planet. If you want to own Planet but aren’t yet Blu-ray capable, it’s a good option. Note that the DVD doesn’t replicate the disc you’d buy separately; this is a more barebones effort without extras, so if you want to see the supplements, you’ll need to be able to check out the Blu-ray Disc.
Packed with potential it never reaches, Planet 51 delivers a dull experience. While its sci-fi spoof should boast many fun sequences, the film fails to explore them in a satisfying way and it provokes exceedingly few laughs. The Blu-ray offers terrific picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. Animation fans can do much better than this slow, monotonous flick.