Titan A.E.

The year is 3028 A.D. The Drej, a race of pure-energy aliens who fear humanity, have just destroyed Earth as space ships flee the devastated planet. Among the fleeing are humanity's last hopes of rebuilding Earth, one of which is in the form of a gigantic spaceship, Titan, and the other is the form of a young boy, Cale (voiced by Matt Damon), who possesses the location of the ship.

After Earth is destroyed, the surviving humans become drifters in space. The Drej, knowing of Titan's existence, search the universe for Cale so they can use the information he possesses to destroy Titan. For the same reason Korso (Bill Pullman), a friend of Cale's father, and his crew, Akima (Drew Barrymore); Preed (Nathan Lane); Gune (John Leguizamo); and Stith (Janeane Garofalo); are after Cale. The surviving humans want to find Titan and restore Earth to its glory. The Drej want to stop them and destroy the last vestige of humanity.

The movie's animation is breathtaking. A lot of art is not just about technical prowess, but mostly about imagination. With great imagination, even the least technical bit of creativity can look amazing. That's how it is with Titan A.E. (though the animation quality is superb). The style of the animation is unique, but not entirely novel: it is a combination of Japanese Anime and the style pioneered in traditional animation by studios like Disney.

Titan A.E. takes its time reaching the conclusion and that simply means more time for eye-popping visuals. There's an incredible sequence involving "wake angels", where Cale learns to pilot a ship and these creatures dance along on the ship's energy wake. The final cat-and-mouse sequence in the Ice Rings of Tigrin where reflections on collapsing ice crystals confuse and threaten is awe-inspiring. Throughout the film, the visualisation of what space beyond what we can currently observe is bold and daring. With respect to the plot, which is generally straight-forward, the way in which Earth is preserved is quite clever.

However, the entire notion of the human spirit winning against all odds wears a bit thin, especially as the outcome is highly predictable. The animations of the characters themselves are okay and the actors do a superlative job with the voices. Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, the movie features a sound track that is incongruous. Rather than searing instrumentals to match the raucous audio of the sound track, we're presented with alterna-pop that is extremely weak and out of place.

Titan A.E. is a grand space-epic that is all the better because of the imaginative use of animation to tell a story. Don't miss this one.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org