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Battle for Terra 3D

2010-11-22 10:54
Battle for Terra
What it's about:

The peaceful inhabitants of an alien world, Terra (oh, how smart), suddenly find themselves being invaded – by the last remnants of the human race. It is up to a teenage alien girl and the human soldier that she found crashed on the planet to stop the two races from annihilating one another.

What we thought:

Essentially a mix of Wall-E, Return of the Jedi, ET, Planet of the Apes and the recent Battlestar Galactica TV series, Battle for Terra is anything but original. Less forgivably, the unoriginal but perfectly promising premise should have at least  resulted in a perfectly solid sci-fi film but it is sadly nowhere near as good as any of the films and TV shows that is so blatantly plunders for ideas.

The problem with Battle for Terra, as is so often the case with lesser science fiction properties, is that it is sorely lacking in any sense of life. Terra itself fails to convince as a vibrant, paradise-like world as it is rendered in dreary browns and pale greens but the aliens that inhabit it are even less memorable. Not only are the Terrans some of the most blandly designed creatures I've seen in an animated film for quite some time, there is not an ounce of personality to be found between the lot of them.

The human characters, meanwhile, fare little better. While there is a certain amount of impressive edginess in the way the last surviving members of the human race are forced to deal with their predicament, the characters themselves are as two-dimensional as the Terrans. Worse still are the character designs. Rather than taking the Pixar route and giving the animated humans a somewhat cartoony countenance, the film's character designers have instead opted for a sense or realism that is unsettling rather than convincing.    
The animation in general is actually very weak. I opted not to include Avatar in the list of films that Battle for Terra owes a certain debt to, not because the similarities aren't glaringly obvious – they very much are – but because I assumed that the films was probably in development long before Avatar was released. Looking at the fairly rubbish animation though, I would almost believe that this was produced – and written, mind you – in the seven or so months since Avatar's release. The animation bares less resemblance to your average Dreamworks production, let alone something from Pixar, than to the cut scenes (video bits in between the game play) in a video game. And not even a new video game, but something from 10 years ago.

Bad animation or not, it is clearly the writing that lets the film down the most. That the characters are, without exception, badly drawn (in every sense of the phrase) is bad enough but the film also boasts plot holes big enough to comfortably push the entire solar system through. The plight of the humans is an especially bewildering head-scratcher. I won't spoil anything but if you haven't figured out the solution to the plight of these clearly immensely stupid humans within the first half hour of the film, you're clearly not trying.

And that right there is the worst part of the whole thing. Not only is Battle for Terra badly plotted, animated and portrayed, it's also really, really boring. It's not Paranormal Activity 2 boring, admittedly, but it's still a total snooze-fest. It has one or two decent bits – the battle scenes, for one – but it is largely humourless, unexciting and slowly paced thanks to wooden direction and a lifeless, witless script.

Battle for Terra is not the worst film out right now and it's far from the worst thing you'll see this year but I just can't imagine it having much of an audience. It's not really aimed at young kids, who would be far better off sticking to How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 anyway – both of which have just been released on DVD. Adults are far better off sticking to the truly excellent Battlestar Galactica for a truly smart, daring take on a similar subject or to any of the films that I mentioned above.  And for all audiences – aside for, and I do mean this, young kids – there is the prospect of the new Harry Potter being released within the week too. In the battle or Potter vs. Terra, well, it really isn't much of a match, is it?

An apocalyptic animated movie that, while not THE worst movie of the year, certainly makes an effort to be.
Read more on:    animation  |  movie

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