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Published: 3 December 2009
Also on release this week

Me and Orson Welles.
Directed by Richard Linklater.
certificate: 12

IT was still a year before the infamous ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast that made Americans take to the streets in fear, and Citizen Kane was a good four years off.
But Orson Welles was already self-assured, aware that he possessed a peculiar brand of genius.
And in this film, which imagines the director producing a Broadway production and taking on a rookie actor for a small but important part, we are given a well-imagined vision of what working with Welles must have been like.
We meet Orson in 1937: already the peculiarities of his character are shining through, with a cast bowing to his every demand at New York’s Mercury Theatre.
Zac Efron is aspiring actor Richard, a teen keen on Noel Coward and hoping to find a way on to the stage. Welles casts him a small role in his version of Julius Caesar. And through this experience, we watch our hero come gently of age.
Director Richard Linklater has taken a potentially tricky topic and made it light hearted. Despite this 30s scene being quite sanitised, the backstage world of Welles works and it is fun watching the way our lead is brought into the quirky world of theatre.

Planet 51. Directed by Jorge Blanco. Certificate: U.

AN observation: we’ve gently become blasé to the wonders of computer animation.
Remember when Toy Story came out? We were blown away, not by the cute story, but by the clever graphics. Now the CGI boffins have to either do something which makes every frame a work of modern art (I am thinking of the Metropolis-like spaces of Wall-E) or revert to older techniques for the quirkiness of them (Tim Burton’s works and Fantastic Mr Fox’s use of animation).
Otherwise, I’m afraid, it is not enough anymore to make children’s films that have a plastic rubberised texture and expect adults accompanying minors to be happy for a 90-minute ogle at the cleverness of the computer bods behind it.
For Planet 51 has a nice enough idea – man heading into the stars, landing on a new moon and finding out what it means to be an alien – but fails to develop it beyond some terrible jokes that even the six-year-olds this is aimed at will see through. While this is not a totally useless film, it is rather dull and if you are going to treat your children to one movie this Christmas, don’t take them for a voyage to Planet 51. Save your cash and plonk them down in front of the Wizard of Oz.

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