Titan A.E. is the right movie for the wrong crowd, a film whose intelligence
and attitude make it suffer. If Titan A.E. were a person, it would be a
preacher speaking to sociopaths: nice job, but you’re in over your head.
It is a shame that Titan A.E. suffers in this manner, because otherwise
it could have been one of the most successful animated films in history.
It’s the Star Wars for animated films, expanding the possibilites and
challenging us to think beyond tradition. It has the whimsy of Wizard of
Oz in some spots, and the cold practicality of Star Trek in others.
The plot is not getting any points for originality, but that’s alright,
because the plot is an excuse for dazzling animation, fantastic ideas, and
deadly run-ins with aliens. The hero Kale (Matt Damon) was separated from
his father before the Drej (beings made purely out of energy) wasted
planet Earth. Time has gone by, and Kale lives on a scrap metal city
in outer space. There, he discovers he holds the key to the Titan, a
mechanism that can create an earth-like planet for the survivors of the
apocalypse. With Akira (Drew Barrymore), a spunky fighter pilot, Korso
(Bill Pullman), a rough pilot with secrets of his own, and the usual
assortment of clownish secondary characters, they make their way for the
Titan, evading the Drej at every turn.
This film, like The Phantom Menace, is more about showing us amazing
sights instead of thought-provoking characters. The best parts of the
film are the portions where no one is talking, and the audience is
watching. For example, there is a scene where the characters are
skimming the surface of a planet covered with trees that are essentially
hydrogen bubbles. If you so much as touch them they explode. A
surprisingly effective shootout and race through the bubbles ensue. There
is another portion where Kale’s ship soars through a nebula, and “space
sprites” follow them, like dolphins follow ships in the ocean. The film
accomplishes all of this imagery by use of animated characters used in
a fully-rendered, 3-D environment. Imagine the camera rotating around
Disney characters, and you get the general idea.
The film tries to be intelligent, and succeeds at some parts. Our heroes
dress themselves up as royalty, trying to get past a guard, but the guard
stops them dead and proves he is no fool. I wasn’t expecting that - an
intelligent guard. There are also plot twists, interesting for an animated
film. Unfortunately, some other parts prove their unoriginality. The
Titan is merely recycled out of Star Trek, while Gune (John Leguizamo)
and Preed (Nathan Lane) are low-rent versions of R2 and 3PO.
Titan A.E. is not a film for the 13 year old boy crowd it desires. It
is for adults that can appreciate the efforts of the filmmakers, and
teenagers that can enjoy the sights and the soundtrack. Titan A.E. tries
going in a different direction, and I applaud it for that. If the producers
had massaged more cleverness and visual brilliance out of the film, it
could have been magnificent. Not a film for the child audience it craved,
but a film for anyone that enjoys movies. As it is, the film is a lot of
fun, with some enjoyable characters, and breathtaking effects. And the
cat-and-mouse run through the Ice Rings of Tigrin is priceless.
Copyright © 2001 Jim VanFleet