Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Battle for Terra 3D

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and some thematic elements
Profanity:None
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking
Violence/Scariness:Sci-fi action violence, characters injured and killed, character sacrifices himself for the others, torture
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie but the human characters are overwhelmingly white and male
Movie Release Date:May 1, 2009
DVD Release Date:September 22, 2009

The animation may be three-dimensional but the story is one-dimensional in this dull saga of humans invading an alien planet — from the perspective of the aliens. I suppose it is actually the humans who are the aliens in this story, so from now on I will refer to the characters who look like fish-lizard creatures as Terrans. The humans long ago destroyed not only Earth but the surrounding planets and for more than a generation they have been roaming the galaxy looking for another place to live. Their ships are barely able to sustain them. And all of those years without a home, battling to stay alive, has made them desperate and unable to think about the rights of other beings.

Mala (voice of Evan Rachel Wood) is a spunky teenager from the peaceful planet Terra. When the human military invade in search of a place to settle, she finds herself sort of stuck with a crashed human pilot named Jim Stanton (voice of Luke Wilson). They gingerly begin to trust one another.

Terra’s atmosphere is poisonous to humans but the humans have the capacity to switch it to oxygen, which will wipe out the Terrans. They feel they have no choice. And when Jim resists, the harsh general (Brian Cox) makes him prove his loyalty by forcing him to make a life or death decision between Mala and his own brother.

Despite the 3D effects, the visuals are dull and unimaginative. None of the characters have much by way of facial expressions or distinguishing characteristics. Apparently the Terrans are way ahead of the humans in the treatment of females and minorities as almost all the humans we see are square-jawed white males who just came off the GI Joe assembly line. The strongest voice performance is from David Cross as Jim’s little robot navigator and even he is a pale imitation of R2D2. The script briefly raises some intriguing issues but its darkest moments are too disturbing for its intended PG audience and its execution is too superficial for other viewers.



  • Michael

    Now that 3D technology is more available to everybody (Blender), movie makers shouldn’t push out movies in 3D quickly and without attention to detail. Proper rigging of the faces to get the right facial expression may take a bit more effort to build, but if the director doesn’t want to take that extra time to make a better film I imagine audiences won’t take the time to go see those films. Pixar’s and Dreamworks’ films are big draws because their stories are well developed and an honest effort is put into making the characters and scenes as detailed as possible.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Exactly right, Michael. Without engaging stories and appealing characters, even the fanciest technology won’t hold the audience’s attention. Thanks for writing!

  • Fox

    Reminds me of a Goosebumps story with a sci-fi edge. You know, the kind where the story has potential but ruined because of sub-par characters and lack of detail.

  • jestrfyl

    As PIXAR has taught, a good story is more important than flashy effects and spiffy artwork. This is true in animation, “live action” films, and life.

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