Titan A.E. Review

The Movie
It's the 31st Century and the Earth is under attack from a race known as the Drej. A few people manage to escape before the Drej's powerful weapons literally rip the planet apart. Two of these people are a young boy named Cale and his father, though they are separated. Whereas Cale is shipped off in an escape vehicle, his father pilots the Titan ship away from Earth just before it is destroyed. Fifteen years later and the few surviving humans are dispersed throughout the galaxy. Cale (voiced by Matt Damon) is scraping a living on an alien station, until the arrival of the ship Valkyrie captained by Korso (voiced by Bill Pullman). He shows Cale that he carries a genetically encoded map to locate the Titan, and far more than being just a spaceship, the Titan is the key to the rebuilding of the human race. Naturally, the Drej would like to see the Titan destroyed, so the race is on to locate the ship before they do.

It's a fairly well known fact that this movie did such appalling box office that it caused Fox Animation Studios to be folded. The most likely reason for this was also the biggest point of debate about the movie: the fact that it attempts to mix two very different styles of animation. On the one hand we have CGI spaceships and planetscapes. All very sophisticated. Layered on top of this though, are "cutesy" looking characters in the mould of other Bluth movies which are aimed at small children. The two styles don't mix well, especially when appealling to a target audience. It's too "grown-up" for the audience Bluth animations normally attract, and young children would probably be distressed to see humourous characters being blown away by vicious aliens. But it looks too kiddie to appeal to older audiences, and despite powering it with a rock soundtrack it was never going to have the impact of all-CGI spectaculars like the forthcoming Final Fantasy. Maybe they were attempting a Japanese anime look, but unfortunately they didn't really succeed.

It's not all bad though. The voice work by the likes of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, Drew Barrymore, Janeane Garafalo, Nathan Lane and John Leguizamo is done well enough, and the script - partly written by Buffy supremo Joss Whedon - could have been a lot worse. Some of the CGI visuals are very impressive, the planet Sesharrim sequence and the climactic scenes in the ice rings being standouts.

Titan AE would probably have fared better if it had been fully CGI or even live action. As it stands, its hybrid state meant it failed to appeal to any audience group in particular. It's not anywhere near as bad as the box office takings would have you believe, but unless you are a big fan of all types of animation, approach with caution.

The anamorphic picture is of very good quality. The "cartoony" 2D animation retains its pastel look, and the CGI effects all look colourful and impressive.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack is pretty much reference quality. It's big, powerful, and there are plenty of directional effects. About as good as it could have been, although unfortunately the DTS track present on the region 1 disc is missing. There is also a 5.1 track in German on the disc.

There is quite an impressive collection of extras on this disc, including:

The centrepiece of the extras is the 22 minute "making of" featurette. Clearly made for television, this is broken into several sections (which would have been separated by advert breaks) and each covers a different aspect of the production of the movie. Interviews with the voice talent, the animation - both 2D and 3D, and the soundtrack, including sound effects and music are all examined. Not the best "making of" featurette, but reasonably watchable.

The deleted scenes number four in total, two that were removed and two that are different versions of existing scenes. These are all presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. Some parts of these sequences are in "rough-cut" form, and in animation terms this means basic wire framing. Nontheless, worth a look.

There is a commentary by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, in which the directors discuss various themes, from the technical challenges through to marketing of the movie, though they are not always screen specific.

A music video of the band Lit performing Over My Head is featured, in non-anamorphic widescreen. As well as being a key song on the soundtrack, this video has further relevance as it blends the band members into sequences of the movie itself.

The usual publicity has two theatrical trailers and two TV spots. Finally a photo gallery provides a run-through of conceptual sketches used in the development of the visual look of the film.

Final Thoughts
This is a film with an identity crisis. It doesn't know whether it's a family-friendly animated movie for kids or a sophisticated CGI science fiction movie for an older audience. In the end it managed to appeal to nobody. Technically this is a good quality disc, and the extras are decent even if they are not outstanding. Worth a look if you are an animation fan, perhaps rental rather than purchase. Also bear in mind that the region 1 version of this disc contains a DTS track lacking here.

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Last updated: 19/04/2018 20:26:40

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