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  Publicity Stills of
"Battle For Terra"
(Courtesy of InnoForm Media)

CG Animation
Director: Aristomenis Tsirbas
Cast: Justin Long, Brian Cox, Evan Rachel Wood, Luke Wilson, David Cross, Amanda Peet, James Garner, Dennis Quaid, Chris Evans, Danny Glover
RunTime: 1 hr 25 mins
Released By: Shaw & InnoForm Media
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.battleforterra.com/

Opening Day: 23 July 2009


The film tells the story of Senn (Justin Long) and Mala (Evan Rachel Wood), two rebellious alien teens living on the beautiful planet Terra, a place that promotes peace and tolerance, having long ago rejected war and weapons of mass destruction. But when Terra is invaded by human beings fleeing a civil war and environmental catastrophe, the planet is plunged into chaos. During the upheaval, Mala befriends an injured human pilot (Luke Wilson) and each learns the two races are not so different from one another. Together they must face the terrifying realization that in a world of limited resources, only one of their races is likely to survive.

Movie Review:

What a relief it felt for an animated 3D film to be void of silly pop cultural references. Enough is enough, and it's high time that one could enjoy the eye popping visuals without an unfunny attempt to draw cheap laughter. In many aspects, Battle for Terra contains a lot of the same themes from peer animated film such as Wall-E (in fact even having a robot sidekick that sort of resembled it) and a premise that was somewhat similar as well, but it left a lot of fuel for thought after the credits rolled.

Such as the quintessential argument of whether you would, for the sake of mankind and our very existence, go all out to annihilate another species altogether. You don't really need a science fiction film to set up a far out scenario to put you in a spot. Just take a look at our own backyard on earth and see what we're doing, or have already done, to our animal kingdom. Needless to say we are quite a destructive force to Mother Nature, and together with our propensity for war over scarce resources, Battle for Terra tells of humankind who have to abandon our wilted planet and solar system even, in an Ark to flee and search for a new planetary home.

It's generations past, and now the Ark is close to breaking down, which brings us humans close to the planet Terra. Aristomenis Tsirbas' story sets it up really succinctly, firstly in having the audience feel a lot for the Terrians, whom we get acquainted with as peace loving creatures who float around, and have genuine appreciation for arts and festivals celebrating life. They're also much like us here, enjoying their peace at the price of being a little bit docile, straight-laced, and totally obedient to their chosen Elders' every instruction, except for a few mavericks like Mala (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood). That being said, for any species threatened with extinction, they won't take things lying down and has plenty of fight in them to stand their ground.

The film puts you firmly in the driver's seat and it's almost impossible not to take sides in the argument for or against the adoption of Terra as a new home. For the council of humans led by President Chen (Danny Glover), it becomes a dilemma of doing so without violence, as what General Hemmer (Brian Cox) advocates in a hostile takeover. And so while some of us might root for a more peaceful solution, the others, when presented with compelling argument of extinction, would choose to root for the latter because it is natural. It's a difficult decision to make, leaving room for plenty of discussion on which side you will be on, though the film decided to take the more cop-out approach (hey, after all, kids are still the target audience).

Initially there were some really troublesome religious allegories in the storyline that was quite surprising, speaking of new gods and the conscious choice of sacrifice to higher power, though this gave way immediately to become nothing but an inconsequential subplot of “alien” abduction. The friendship between Mala and human starship-fighter Jim Stanton (Luke Wilson) was also put on the fast-track, setting up some inter-galactic Romeo and Juliet romance possibilities under the tragic umbrella of an all out war for survival from both sides. In fact, their interaction started from an Independence Day set piece of one party out-flying the other through a maze like environment, and culminating in a no-holds barred space fight that won't look out of place in Star Wars.

And that of course is the money shot to exploit 3D to the max, with depth of field, debris, explosions, dogfights and pursuing missiles all thrown on screen for one massive, extended battle sequence. Alas, the direction of Tsirbas failed somewhat to take into account the potential for audience participation. Rather than just let us sit there with our 3D glasses on, witnessing the spectacle, he should have let us experience it. Many golden opportune moments, such as unleashing missiles, were sorely not aimed squarely toward the screen, choosing instead to angle away. It'll definitely be something to have an audience duck, or rush through a complex all round and dangerous space fight through a first person perspective, rather than a third person one.

But that's just a wee bit of a technical rant. Battle of Terra still boasts of its sexy, contemporary themes like the warnings for conservation, and science fiction elements like colonization, space stations and such that would find a ready audience eager to lap up the next 3D animated offering set in space. What more, it has a stellar voice casting from many recognizable Hollywood names, and coupled with some incredibly detailed animation and design, Battle for Terra definitely deserves a watch.

Movie Rating:

(A slick sci-fi animated film appealing through its adult themes and stellar voice actors)

Review by Stefan Shih


. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

. Wall-E (2008)

. Dragon Hunters (2008)

. Space Chimps (2008)

. Evangelion: You Are Not Alone (2007)

. Valiant (2005)

. Summer Days With Coo DVD (2008)

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