Film Commentary [6-23-00]
Animated space opera - - Titan, A.E.
Genre: Animation/science fiction
Grade = B+



This year's first big Hollywood animated film is a science fiction epic set in the 31st century. As the film opens, the earth is being attacked by the Drej, beings of pure energy that are really jealous of the human potential. Therefore, in the words of Bender the Robot, "Destroy all humans." During the attack a little boy named Cale (Matt Damon) is placed on an escape ship by his father who gives him his ring and then boards the Titan, a revolutionary new type of starship. Both ships barely escape before the Drej destroy the earth and most of humanity. Hence the title of the film, A.E. as in After Earth.

Ten years later Cale is working in a spaceship junkyard and the last surviving humans are discriminated against as loosers. Cale is also pissed that his dad never came back for him. Cale is contacted by a human named Korso (Bill Pullman) who tells him he has the hidden key of the location of the Titan, and can therefore save humanity. The key is ring that his father gave him and is genetically coded to only allow him to use it. Apparently the Drej also thinks so as they are both immediately attacked and must flee in Korso's ship. The ship is crewed by Akima (Drew Barrymore) a girl Cale's age, and aliens Preed (Nathan Lane), Stith (Janeane Gorofalo), a kangaroolike female with a fondness for heavy weaponry and the excitable science nerd Gune (John Leguizamo).

Their misadventures have them traveling across the galaxy pursued by the Drej, finally ending up in a cloud of giant ice crystals with a spectacular space battle.

This film is a space opera. It also has some of the most eyecatching computer generated special effects that have ever been produced for an animated film. Nor is this a very deep film. The story is bare bones and the characters tend to be caricatures with very little development. Most of the voice performances were pretty much bland. It almost seems as if they simply phoned them in, especially Bill Pullman who I found entirely unbelievable. All that is, except for the animated performance of John Leguizamo. As one of the up and coming character actors working in Hollywood he lives up to his reputation for lively character development. Also unbelieveable was the attraction between Cale and Akima.

Now you would think that I didn't like this film. You're wrong. Like I said, this is a space opera. I love space operas. Star Wars was a space opera. Best of all, its not Disney, therefore NO SONGS. The visuals were stunning and I haven't seen something that looks this good on the screen (this means that it won't translate well to video).The interjuxtaposition of the traditional animation and the computer generated stuff isn't particularly seamless, but it really doesn't affect the film's continuality. The one thing I didn't like was that most of the human character movement was rotoscoped. That is, filmed with actors and then traced onto the animation. I hate that.

This film shows some the influence of Japanese anime that's beginning to show major impact on both Hollywood animation and movies (like the Matrix). First, there is the name of the character Akima. Blatantly Japanese, as is the development some of the main spaceships and the Drej.

This is not an intellectual film. It is merely fun, and what's wrong with going to a movie to have some fun. It was better than Star Wars Episode One. It also has one of the best websites for a film I've seen this year.


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