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Same old story: New animated film 'Escape From Planet Earth' recycles tired storytelling

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 19 2013 11:22 a.m. MST

A still from "Escape from Planet Earth."

The Weinstein Company

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The animated motion picture “Escape From Planet Earth” arrived in theaters Feb. 15. Even though movie critics are generally conceding the film can be fun fare for kids and adults alike (it’s rated PG for action and some mild humor), many of those same critics are independently harping on the film’s obvious similarities to three fairly recent animated feature films: “Megamind” (2010), “Planet 51” (2009) and especially “Monsters vs. Aliens” (2009).

Indeed, below are several snips from movie reviews that explicitly make a connection between “Escape From Planet Earth” and “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

  • Roger Moore of McClatchy-Tribune News Service: “… The team of screenwriters has plagiarized ‘Monsters vs. Aliens.’ ”
  • Peter Howell of the Toronto Star: “(‘Escape From Planet Earth’) has got a lead character much like Buzz Lightyear from ‘Toy Story,’ who gets into all kinds of intergalactic mischief with beasties and humanoids resembling the inhabitants of ‘Monsters vs. Aliens,’ ‘Monsters, Inc.,’ ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ and many other similar entertainments.”
  • Andrew Parker of DorkShelf.com: “If anything the film feels a bit too close to ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ in terms of creating passing nods to classic sci-fi flicks and leaning on elaborate set pieces.”
  • The Movie Frontier: “This story is nothing very unique, it kind of has a ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ vibe to it, with Area 51 being involved and of all these unique creatures.”
  • Michael Rechtshaffen for the Toronto Sun: “Between the likes of ‘Wall-E,’ ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ and ‘Planet 51,’ ‘Escape from Planet Earth’ is certainly covering terrain that feels anything but alien.”
  • Digging a little deeper, any dearth of originality in “Escape From Planet Earth” can at least partially be attributed to the fact that control over the film’s artistic vision has spawned contentious, still-ongoing litigation between plaintiff filmmakers Brian Inerfeld and Tony Leech, and defendant distributor The Weinstein Company.

    Last week The Hollywood Reporter noted, “The film languished in development, and the plaintiffs claimed that the Weinsteins repeatedly unlocked the script, forcing rewrites at least 17 times.”

    See additional reviews and rate "Escape from Planet Earth" on ok.com.

    Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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