Directed by Jorge Blanco and Javier Abad
This debut from Spanish animation studio Ilion has a promising premise (even if it was similar to last year's Battle for Terra): a gung-ho American astronaut (voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) lands on a planet of green-hued inhabitants—who, for dramatic purposes, all speak English and look somewhat human-like. In fact, their world is more or less a version of 1950s America, from the diners to the cheesy sci-fi "invasion" movies playing at the local theater. (The long-haired, guitar-playing hippie is supposed to be a harbinger of the next decade, I guess). When science-geek Lem (Justin Long) encounters Captain Charles Baker, he realizes his neighbors, not to mention the military, will want to lock him up and/or neutralize him, and he spends most of the movie trying to hide the Earth invader, when he's not pining for girl-next-door Neera (Jessica Biel).
While the aliens' 50s-style planet is a fun idea, the screenplay relies on the same stock characters as a 50s sitcom—the bookish hero pining for the girl, the goofy best friend—while almost ignoring the relationships between the main characters, save for a brief moment between the Captain and Lem. You'd think there would be a scene where the aliens and the astronaut trade anecdotes or impressions of their respective worlds, but that's too deep for this flick. The target audience is clearly 11-year-old boys, as evidenced by the number of butt jokes, and an alarming number of references, subtle as they may be, to alien "probes." There are a few amusing nods to E.T., 2001 and their ilk, but there's little for adults to enjoy here. And is the Captain's beeping little robot-helper, Rover, supposed to be a Wall-E reference? Or just a blatant rip-off? Well, the Ilion logo certainly looks like the Pixar one.
Opens November 20