Saturday, February 28, 2009

Titan A.E. (2000)

If you're wondering why more original science fiction properties aren't given the green light in this day and age, it's because of tripe like Titan A.E. and other turn of the century flops which have all but killed the general public's interest in the medium. More specifically, this film is an insult to good taste and certainly an insult to the incredible job it's CGI animators did on creating breathtaking space sequences.

The plot is pretty standard apocalyptic science fiction fare. An alien species known as the Drej have for some reason decided that humanity must be eradicated. So they descend upon Earth to blow it all to Hell. The humans have of course predicted this would happen and so many escape in a mass exodus on generational ships, including a mysterious vessel known as the Titan. Deus ex machina time! Protagonist Cale (who is voiced decently enough by Matt Damon) is given a genetically coded compass/key which can activate the Titan, which is in fact a genesis device capable of creating a new planet Earth guessed it...minutes? Maybe an hour? The genesis ship reaches its location and then runs out of gas, so it's up to Cale to come along and re-ignite it all somehow, to reinstate the human species. Along the way he meets a traitorous human captain (voiced by Bill Pullman) and his alien crew, and happens to fall in love with the only other human his age he meets in the galaxy. The audience won't care, they must all be dumb, right? Wrong.

First off, we are NEVER given any explanation as to why the Drej hate humanity. Maybe they feel threatened. Who the fuck knows. Now...considering that the Drej are a SPECIES MADE OUT OF PURE ENERGY, why the hell would they be concerned with humans or the material races at all? This makes no sense. Secondly, if humans are capable at this point (in the 31st century) of creating a planet IN MINUTES, why are they not capable of technologies that can defend their planet? Thirdly, we are introduced to many other species in the film, all of which have technology of their own, so why do the Drej just leave them all be? How are they not a threat? This has to have one of the most idiotic, phoned in premises of any film I have ever seen. Did you seriously even think about this for 10 minutes before pitching it? And how did it pass edit? Was there no one with a grain of sense in their head working on this production who brought any of these relevant and painfully obvious observations to the director? I have a tendency to lower my expectations with films, since I know there will always be miraculous Hollywood style escapes and predictable plot twists, but the logic of this film is staggeringly stupid.

What makes this even more the tragedy is that this is a film whose universe has some great ideas and is beautifully illustrated. The main characters have a very motion based, expressive animation which you'd expect from director Don Bluth's video games (Dragon's Lair, Space Ace) and Ralph Bakshi-style animated films, but what really shines is the detailed computer animation of the ships and environments. There are some beautiful interstellar locales in this film, like the void of colliding, monolithic ice masses which mask the location of the Titan (there is a far-fetched chase scene through the area). Or the ship racing along a gaseous nebula as it tows mysterious 'wake angels' entities, which is essentially like swimming with the dolphins. I also really enjoyed the vulture-like alien species' homeworld with its natural exploding gaseous bulblike plants. This is all quite psychedelic and wondrous and deserved a lot better treatment than the shitty plot upon which it is wasted.

In addition to Damon and Pullman, you'll hear many familiar voices here: John Leguizamo, Ron Perlman, Nathan Lane, Drew Barrymore and Janeane Garofalo are all here, even Tone Loc in a short role as the alien Tek (HAHAHAAHAHA). The voice acting and Grame Revell original score are passable, but the selection of modern rock tracks is another truly frustrating element of the film. At certain 'pivotal' scenes involving the main characters, awful pop rock tracks from mediocre artists suddenly appear as if they are going to somehow afford the film some hipness or perhaps help teen viewers relate. This placement is almost as bad as the script writing.

This film is best avoided unless you have access to some of the space scenes which are quite beautiful. Had the obvious talent of its production team and animation studio been used on a half-decent science fiction script, we could have had a cult classic on our hands. As it stands, Titan A.E. is a hideous disappointment which could please only the least demanding, incompetent media suck puppets on Earth. Kill it. Kill it with fire.

Verdict: Fail [3/10]
(points for art direction and CGI sequences only)


Dreadkommander Nekrokreuz said...

Saw this back when it came out and loved it.

Saw it again a couple years ago... yeah, 3/10 sounds about right.

Rhan said...

Eerie. That's precisely how I thought about this movie.