Titan A.E.

Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman
Starring: Voices of Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo, John Leguizamo.
MPAA Rating: PG for action violence, mild sensuality and brief language.

Review by Matt Heffernan
June 16, 2000

After Don Bluth left Disney to start his own animation studio, he made The Secret of NIMH -- a brilliant film the likes of which Disney could not produce at that time. Since then, he has been trying to do it again, and has had commercial success with such films as An American Tail and, most recently, Anastasia. But, the artistic precedent set by his first film was never met again, so now he has attempted his most ambitious project ever.

In the early 31st century, Earth is destroyed by the Drej aliens: an invincible race that exists as pure energy. One refugee named Cale (voiced by Matt Damon) has spent the last fifteen years growing up without a planet. His father only left him with a ring before getting killed trying to fight the Drej.

With little to look forward to other than a lifetime of recycling junked spaceships, he meets Capt. Korso (Bill Pullman). It turns out that the ring has a few switches on it, so Korso flips them in a certain order, places it back on Cale's finger, and a map appears on his palm. Korso tells him that it leads to the location of Titan: a ship that his father designed which will be the savior of humanity. Cale goes along with Korso and his crew, including Akima (Drew Barrymore) and Preed (Nathan Lane), and they go in search of Titan.

There are more than a few leaps of faith necessary to buy the plot of Titan A.E. (the A.E. stands for "After Earth"). For instance, the Drej instantly become matter-based whenever the plot needs them to be destroyed, and in turn not quite so invincible. Sometimes, the vacuum of space doesn't always have to be lethal or gravity-free. Of course, this is all nitpicking. The real criticism could go to the dialogue, which isn't afraid to contain constant clichés.

Again, that's asking a bit much for a cartoon. The real attraction is the animation, which is where all disappointment disappears. The action is very tight, if not realistic, and the visuals are extraordinary. Bluth uses computer imaging extensively to create "sets" for the characters. I was initially afraid that the traditionally animated characters would not blend well with the photo-realistic elements, but somehow this film pulls it off.

Sticking through the clumsy screenplay isn't too much to ask to enjoy this film. Actually, I was a bit surprised by some of the plot twists, even if they weren't executed well. Compared to Battlefield Earth, Titan A.E. is a masterpiece of post-apocalyptic science fiction. Just don't try to compare it to any really good films.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Titan A.E. (2000)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Titan A.E. (2000) -- VHS
Titan A.E. (2000) -- DVD
Titan A.E., a screenplay novelization by Steve Perry and Dal Perry -- Paperback
Titan A. E.: Cale's Story, a novel by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta -- Paperback
Titan A. E.: Akima's Story, a novel by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta -- Paperback
Titan A.E.: Original Soundtrack -- Compact Disc

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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan