Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Battle For Terra (Review)

      I had seen "Battle for Terra" in theaters when it came out, but only the 2-D version, however, thanks to the Fantastic Fest and the Alamo Drafthouse, I got to see it in 3-D (and have a really good pizza.)      Sadly, the 3-D does very little for this movie.  Luckily, there are no moments of things flying out of the screen, just some floating credits, but there is also not a lot of really good use of 3-D in the screen.  Most of the time, you don't even notice the 3-D or it seems to be almost non existent, as if the movie was not originally made for 3-D and it was added after the fact.  Some of the space scenes are nice in 3-D and the huge, flying, alien whale thing is a nice effect, but all in all, you can safely skip the 3-D version and not really be missing anything.

     Than having been said, this was a pretty good movie.  It is not a lesson on environmentalism.  It is an anti war story.  The movie begins on Terra, an alien world inhabited by large eyed, legless aliens who seem to swim through the air.  Despite the lack of 3-D luster, the animation is actually quite breathtaking.  Not to far in, humans arrive.  It seems that we did not destroy the environment, rather, over centuries, we used up the the Earth's resources.  (No, it is not about recycling either.)  After that, we terraformed Mars and Venus, colonized them, and began to use their resources.  About 200 years after that, the colonies want independence.  War destroys all three worlds, and the remaining humans strike out in a huge ship, taking generations to arrive at the nearest world that can support life, Terra.  So, it's us or them.  The story is a bit archetypal at this point.  There's a general, hell bent on destruction of the native Terrians as the only solution, a young, intelligent Terrian trying to rescue her father, a human pilot who is rescued by a Terrian, and even a cute, little robot sidekick, however, despite a less than original general story, the execution of the story is gripping  and done more than well enough to keep you engaged.  You get drawn into these characters and actually care about what happens to them.  They manage to not make the robot an annoying gimmick and make him more than a bit player.  There is even a surprise as the Terrians end up being not your typical group of backwater natives.

     I enjoyed this movie.  It's not long enough to get preachy or boring or hung up on details or the science of anything and it moves along at a really nice pace.  The voice actors all do a good job, including Evan Rachel Wood and Luke Wilson in starring roles as the Terrian Mala and Human fighter pilot, Jim Stanton.  Other voices include James Garner, David Cross, Beverly D'Angelo, Danny Glover, Laraine Newman, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, and Mark Hamill.  That's quite a lot of star power.  Unfortunately, only James Garner and David Cross play roles of any consequence.  Cross plays the, thankfully, not annoying, (and thankfully not very David Cross) robot Giddy and Garner plays one of the elder Terrians (and guardian of the terrible secret) 

     Ok, so I liked "Battle for Terra," who else will enjoy it?  It's animated, so you think kids, but it's not really a kids movie.  There is war, violence, death, alien autopsy, racial hatred, and an attempted genocide.  Even if you'd like your youngster to see the positive message about living in harmony and peace, it's likely to be a bit much for them.  Adults are likely to be thrown by the short running time, 85 minutes, the sci-fi setting, and the kinda cutesy aliens, and teens will likely think it's a kids movie.  However, if you can get over watching a cartoon (CGI, that is, and beautifully done) and you are old enough for the PG-13 content, I'd recommend seeing "Battle for Terra", at least once.

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