Titan AE

I walked out of Titan A.E. feeling like I was ten years old.

A week later I saw it again and again I walked out feeling like a kid. The movie is unlike any other I've seen in a long, long time. It's so visually stunning that the audience ends up responding to it on many levels -- on opening week, the audience was cheering towards the end. There are a few sequences in particular that just leave the viewer sitting there, wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the beauty of the scenery.

Titan A.E. is, at its core, a space adventure in the tradition of Star Wars (the real one, not last year's cash cow). The earth is destroyed by a race of evil aliens called the Drej because humanity has the potential for great power, and the Drej want to take them out early. In the opening scenes of the movie, the Drej destroy the Earth in the first of several eye-popping animation sequences.

Fifteen years later, the son of Earth's greatest engineer is doing manual labor in a deep space salvage yard. Bored, disaffected, and resentful of the loss of his home and his father's abandonment, Cale spends his time bitching about life and avoiding bullies who pick on him for being human. That all changes with the arrival of a ship carrying the rough space veteran Korso, the slick Preed, the acerbic weapons master Stith, the hyperactive scientist Gune, and Akima, the beautiful navigator. The group takes off with the unwilling Cale, outrunning hunting packs of Drej, because Cale carries a map to the legendary Titan: Cale's father's finest creation, a ship that will somehow save humanity.

Titan A.E.'s casting was impeccable. Voiced by actors such as Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, Janeane Garofalo, Tone Loc, and Nathan Lane, the characters are for the most part believable and sympathetic without being too over the top. The soundtrack was done by Graeme Revell (The Crow), and though it has a few flaws -- such as the tendency for the rock songs to be too apropos to the situation on the screen ('It's My Turn To Fly' when Cale gets a chance to fly the ship, for instance). Graeme Revell's part, though, was beyond reproach. The animation is Don Bluth's (The Secret of NIMH) finest, melding traditional cels with computer graphics for a result that redefines American standards of animation. The violence is not too graphic for most kids (there are explosions, laser gun fights, and some zero-G blood floating -- much more than Disney would ever do, but nothing extreme), and overall the movie is a hell of a ride for adults as well as munchkins. The screenplay (written by, among others, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon) is hilarious -- in the places where most movies get trite or sappy, Titan A.E. makes a clever joke.

I cannot recommend Titan A.E. enough. It's a lot of fun, and you'll leave it with a big goofy grin on your face, and that's pretty much the point.


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