Titan A.E.

Fox once again tries to prove that studios beside Disney can be kings at animation. Their latest effort is Titan A.E., a science fiction extravaganza dealing with the human race searching for a lost spaceship. The underrated Anastasia was Fox's first effort, a basic clone of Disney movies. With Titan A.E., Fox asserts that it can make decent animated movies that are different enough from Disney, although it is similar to Japanese anime. Also, veteran directors Don Bluth and Gary Oldman (Anastasia, A Troll in Central Park) attempt to broaden the appeal of the movie, adding rock music and some risque elements to attract an older audience.

The best thing about Titan A.E. is the visuals. Backgrounds and objects are beautifully rendered, seeming nearly realistic at times. Bluth, Oldman, and the animators create stunning environments for their characters, from alien landscapes to outer space vistas. Some of the spaceships look as good as they do in the most expensive summer blockbusters. At the same time, the character animation is mundane, looking no different from any of Bluth or Oldman's other films, or even Disney for that matter. The contrast between the characters and the backgrounds is also strange. Why not try something different? The only character with even a hint of something new is Akima, with a small anime influence. With the exception of the Drej, most aliens are essentially talking animals.

The Drej are beings of pure energy. For reasons unknown, they really dislike humans. Enough to destroy Earth. In the years after earth (hence, the A.E.), the remains of the human race live among the stars, spat down upon by other races. The remainder of the story by an astounding five people (Ben Edlund, John August, Joss Whedon, Randall McCormick, and Hans Bauer, oh my!) is as ordinary as the character animation. Cale (Matt Damon, Dogma, The Talented Mr. Ripley) holds the key to saving humanity. His father was a scientist who created a spaceship called the Titan. When the Drej destroyed Earth, Cale's father launched the Titan and hid it, never returning. Fifteen years later, Cale is a bitter young man, working amongst aliens. Corso (Bill Pullman, Brokedown Palace, Lake Placid), an associate of Cale's father, finds Cale and tells him of his destiny. Cale reluctantly agrees to help Corso find the Titan.

Akima (Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed, The Wedding Singer) is a member of Corso's crew, and guess what, she and Cale dislike each other initially and then later hit it off. All of it is a mix of lots of other science fiction, with a huge resemblance to Star Wars. The story is not hard to predict, and the alien sidekicks (voiced by Nathan Lane, John Leguizamo and Janeane Garofalo) get annoying after a short time. Some of the more mature elements (a comment here or a peek there) are welcome, not because they have the ability to corrupt children, but they actually add depth to some of the characters. Granted, there are probably other ways to do this, but it's a start. After watching Titan A.E., most everything will fade from memory except for the CGI, which alone makes it worth the trip.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Rated PG for action violence, mild sensuality, and brief language.

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