Battle for Terra
Directed by: Aristomenis Tsirbas
Cast: (voices) Evan Rachel Wood, Luke Wilson, Brian Cox, David Cross
Running Time: 1 hr 25 mins
Release Date: May 1, 2009
Plot: Following the destruction of Earth and other human-colonized planets, the remaining humans search space for a new place to settle. When the humans attack Terra, a peaceful alien planet, a young Terrian (Wood) and a human pilot (Wilson) try to end the war.
Who’s It For? If you appreciate a good score and enjoy contemplating the future of the human race, check this one out. Surprisingly this film isn’t for the the little ones, there’s just too much violence for a standard kid flick.
Expectations: Since this is a full-length version of the 2003 award-wining, seven-minute short film by the same director, I’m expecting good things. I just hope it’s not seven minutes of substance and 78 minutes of filler.
Evan Rachel Wood as Mala: Wood voices the young Terrian who goes out on a limb to help save her planet. I haven’t seen her other recent voice role in Sharkbait so I don’t have anything to compare. She does convey the fear and determination of her character but she doesn’t draw me in with her. Unfortunately, she’s just not memorable in this role.
Luke Wilson as Jim Stanton: This is the first voice roll for Wilson and it shows. There’s not enough feeling there. He seems a little too laid back for a soldier. The redeeming quality is that he’s the good guy even if he is overly mellow.
David Cross as Giddy: Cross adds just a splash of comedy in a otherwise comically barren landscape. The role is small but he brings the helpful robot to life. Think of a cross between C-3PO and R2-D2 from Star Wars, what’s not to like?
Brian Cox as General Hemmer: Every film needs an evil character to root against. Cox’s Hemmer is the one you love to hate. He doesn’t even really need the animated facial expressions, the emotion comes through clearly in his voice alone.
Talking: The dialogue is not the strong point of this one. There are a few meaningful conversations between Mala and James that focus on the social commentary. Aside from that, there are a couple of lines reminiscent of Star Wars, one where Giddy gets caught up in his own logic and another quote fans may recognize, “It’s a trap!” In general, the dialogue doesn’t move me.
Sights: The animation is pretty. The animators create their own world complete with flying, large-eyed aliens living above the clouds. It’s available in 3D but it isn’t necessary and it doesn’t add much to the experience. Sure, they fly you through space a few times and fire some rockets in your face but it seems more a gimmick than anything else. This isn’t surprising considering the film was originally created in 2D.
Sounds: The music is great, in fact it’s my favorite aspect of the film. The score by Abel Korzeniowski keeps me emotionally connected to the story. It flows well and isn’t overbearing. After the film I walked out with the music in my head (and not in an annoying way).
The alien world that’s created is original though I can’t help but be reminded of Star Wars throughout the film. A “Death Star” type ship, a C-3PO/R2-D2 type robot companion (riding behind the pilot in a small craft) and a canyon flying scene to name just a few similarities. If that’s not enough, Mark Hamill also plays a small role as a Terrian elder.
Battle for Terra is more of a social commentary than anything else. Not only does it alert us to the dangers of draining Earth’s resources but it also warns us about destroying other cultures in order to promote our own. Although preachy, it does give you something to think about after you leave the theater.