Movie Mom

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.

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