Film Review: "Battle For Terra"
April 28, 2009
by: Jared Counts
(Lionsgate. 1 hour, 25 minutes. Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and some thematic elements. Directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas.) Featuring the voices of Luke Wilson, Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, Chris Evans, David Cross, Justin Long, Amanda Peet, Dennis Quaid and others. Music by Abel Korzeniowski.
When the peaceful planet Terra comes under attack from the planetless remnants of humanity, a young Terranean named Mala (Wood) befriends injured human pilot Jim Stanton (Wilson). Jim is then faced with a difficult decision: destroy his newfound friends, or doom humanity. For a kid's movie, Terra has some narrative heft. The plot, while a tad heavy-handed in places, presents some heady themes: sacrifice, loyalty, faith and the questioning of authority. The conflict between the warlike humans, led by General Himmer (Cox), and the big-eyed, floating tadpoles of Terra is well-executed and very messy. The voice-acting is competent, but one-dimensional characterizations hamper a star-studded cast. While Wood's Mala is tenacious and ingenious and Cross's Giddy is witty without being zany, many of the characters are very flat.
Visually, the film is well done, providing a compelling contrast between the decrepit human ship and the lush and sprawling Terra. The film is beautifully animated, especially for such a small studio, and the 3-D effect is well-executed. The animators do some interesting things with depth-of-field that help the 3-D elements feel a bit more organic and less gimmicky. A lot of thought obviously went into the design of the Terraneans and their technology, and while the human technology is well-designed, the humans themselves are fairly blah. The film's "can't-we-all-just-get-along" ending feels a little tacked-on, but doesn't devolve into hokiness. It probably won't win any awards, but it's a solid, surprisingly mature animated film.
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