Titan A.E.

Since Titan, the moon of Saturn, is much in the news lately….

This 2000 animated film rips off every SF movie in recent memory– but it manages to be entertaining, if you don’t think too much. The theatrical release did not do as well as expected, but the DVD may be purchased from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

Title: Titan: A.E

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directors: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, Art Vitello.

Writers:Hans Bauer,, Randall McCormick, Ben Edlund, John August, Joss Whedon, A Fox janitor who was passing by at the time.

Features:

Drew Barrymore…Akima
Matt Damon…Cale Tucker
Janeane Garofalo…Stith
Nathan Lane…Preed

John Leguizamo…Gune
Bill Pullman…Korso
Christopher Scarabosio…Drej Queen
Ken Hudson Campbell…Po

Premise:

Evil energy beings destroy the earth because they fear what humanity will become. Fifteen years later, the son of a noted scientist learns that he holds the key to humanity’s last, best hope.

High Points:

1. Although the conventional and computer animated mix uneasily, some of the visuals are impressive. I’m not certain I believe in hydrogen trees, but they look great, and the space scenes compare with some live-action SF films.

2. The use of artificial gravity failure as a plot device, and the implication that this happens at least as often as any other systems failure. We don’t see that very often in media SF, for obvious reasons.

Low Point:

The screenwriters had the Infinite Improbable Plot Development Generator on hyperdrive. The Drej don’t kill Akima when they have no use for her, and they even jettison her in a life-support pod. Someone finds the pod, even though space is really big (okay, she was broadcasting as signal of some kind). Our heroes arrive on a planet and the stars are in the perfect alignment at that place and time for the map to work. Certain people later go looking for Akima, even though they have no actual reason to. A derelict spaceship can be repaired in a couple of hours by a few people who have never seen it before… You get the picture.

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6 Pretty much everything in this film has been done elsewhere, recently, and better. The creators show a particular fondness for scenes from the original Star Wars trilogy.

Animation: 4/6 The two styles of animation don’t exactly mix, though both are fine in their own right.

Story: 3/6 The story holds together, though it’s often an excuse for videogame-style action sequences. Viewers should be able to spot the final twist coming a light year off.

Voice Acting: 5/6. This is generally good, and I found the interplay between Cale and Akima convincing, in a cartoony sort of way. The aliens (all of whom resemble Terran animals) are cutsier than I would have liked, but Titan A.E. clearly wanted a family audience, despite its darker subject matter. Some aspects of the film have to be considered with this in mind.

Production: 5/6.

Emotional Response: 4/6 The film’s saving grace is that it manages to be fun, once you get over the destruction of the entire planet.

Overall: 4/6.

In total, Titan A.E. receives 26/42.

Additional Comments

I remain uncertain why the Drej regarded the Titan project as such a threat that they would wipe out an entire planet.

8 replies on “Titan A.E.”

  1. mbourgon says:

    Joss dialog…
    I remember hearing two things about this movie, after I saw it.

    1. Joss (co?)wrote the screenplay.
    2. Joss’s wife, on their drive home after a screening, said “say something funny so I’ll remember that you are.”
    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Joss dialog…

      (co?)wrote the screenplay.

      Reportedly, Whedon was brought in to write/rewrite some of the dialogue.

  2. dgswensen says:

    Agreed
    This movie looked cool, had some great concepts, and some great moments, but on the whole just left me cold. It completely lost me during the “good guy turns bad… then he’s good again” bit. That and the hero… does the world really need another smug, wisecracking teenaged protagonist?

    I loved the battle in the icy asteroid field, though, and the swamp chase. It’s a good movie to mine for sci-fi adventure ideas, but not strong enough to succeed on its own.

  3. nkuzmik says:

    Personally
    I read the book first. The book managed to add enough fabric to the universe to make the book better than the movie. As far as the movie is concerned. I’ve seen it in the $5 bin at Walmart… I just didn’t happen to have $5 burning a hole in my pocket.

  4. pogle says:

    Drej scared of the Titan project
    “I remain uncertain why the Drej regarded the Titan project as such a threat that they would wipe out an entire planet.”

    Did you perhaps miss what it did to them at the end of the movie? If you had a near stranglehold on the galaxy due to your unique semi-invincible state-of-being and someone developed a device that was capable of destroying your entire species…well…would you wait and ask if their intentions were benign (which we don’t know one way or another, in truth), or just strike pre-emptively?

    • Timeshredder says:

      That should’ve been posted with a Spoilers warning

      This post may contain possible spoilers.

      Possibly, but if that was the reason, why did they go up against the occupied Titan at the end without any protection? It’s not at all clear that they even knew the Titan could do what it did at to them, since that was never its purpose, nor was it how it was supposed to work– Cale had to modify it. And why the musing about the Drej fearing what humanity will become? It seemed from the perspective of the script that the Drej feared the Titan’s main purpose, and not the fact that, when tinkered with and when the Drej stupidly fly into it, it could be as destructive to them as, well, conventional weapons are to any other species.

      • Timeshredder says:

        Also…

        Even if you are correct, I would still argue that wiping out an entire planet goes way beyond “pre-emptive strike.” Or not far enough since, presumably, any of the other species we see could have developed the same technology, which was incidental to the main purpose of the Titan.

      • pogle says:

        Re: That should’ve been posted with a Spoilers warning
        I’m sorry, I generally don’t worry about spoilers on something thats been out for this many years. Spoilers now hidden in this one.


        If the Drej didnt know what the Titan could do, why were they so desperate to destroy it? The energy manipulation stuff with the Titan could be a first step towards becoming like the Drej, hence the musing on the potential of humanity. And flipping a circuit breaker isn’t a very big modification to make there at the end. The potential was right there and obvious apparently or it would have taken more than 5 minutes to achieve the conversion.

        The Drej came to destroy it at the end because they believed they had their own agent inside with the situation under control (and his reward of course would be to die with the rest of those on board). Seems par for course for an evil race of superbeings, overconfidence tied with betrayal of subordinates.

        As for the preemptive strike, they’ve got a strangehold on the galaxy near as can be seen; who’s to say they don’t exterminate any planet that develops the energy conversion stuff like the Titan is capable of? Certainly most people don’t like them at all, but are also afraid of them. So they definitely have a reputation outside of what happened to that ‘fringe group’ of humanity.

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