Battle For Terra
Review by Michael Edwards
TERRA is a peaceful planet, one which shuns the lures of technological in order to enjoy a simple existence that is free of conflict. It’s inhabitants pass their days flying wooden airships and celebrating all that life has given them.
All that changes, however, when a ship bearing the remnants of humanity appears one day, and tries to take their world from them.
It’s not hard to see the parallels between this film and a vastly more expensive version of a similar tale involving a certain race of blue people and an overbearing mining colony.
Given these parallels, it’s tempting to say that the film is unlucky that it will inevitably be forced into unfavourable comparisons with its expensively produced and lengthily perfected cinematic cousin.
This temptation must be avoided, because the truth is that this mediocre animation would most likely have not seen the light of day in the UK if it wasn’t for Avatar, and the chance to piggyback on its popularity.
The plot is laughably facile and riddled with holes. From the moment the earthlings show up at Terra, the progression of events is so predictable that even most children in the cinema grew bored quire quickly.
The inevitable progression through the earthling invasion, resistance and mutual confrontation of the pasts (and futures) of each species is not only completely uninspired but delivered with a clumsiness that makes Avatar look like one of the greatest works of fiction ever produced.
As cliche after cliche is spouted in alarmingly quick succession, all that is left to do whilst sat in the torture chamber that the cinema soon becomes is marvel at how little thought went into basic aspects of the design of Terra and its inhabits.
Aside from looking like bargain-basement plasticine models made by five-year-olds, Terra and its inhabitants defy every known law of physics. Along with massive sky whales, the slug-like Terrians enjoy the innate ability to flat around.
A relatively bizarre talent that, although unexplained, could be stomached if it wasn’t for the frequent number of times that they also fell long distances (somehow losing their ability to float at the same time) and needed equally unfeasible airships to travel around.
Add to these implausible beings such oddities as clockwork spaceships, home smelting kits and air which explodes for no reason and you have the biggest failings by a research and continuity crew since spaceman James Caviezel fought vikings and luminous dragons in Outlander.
That Battle for Terra has amassed some impressive voice talents (including Evan Rachel Wood, Danny Glover and Dennis Quaid) should not in any way be taken as an indication of quality that exists somewhere in this project.
Rather, it is likely that these people wanted to be a part of an important lesson in the dangers of mankind’s socio-economic path. How these people must have winced when they saw the result!
Not only are the lessons hammered home unnecessarily obviously, but they are often undermined by basic failures to make any characters or ideas in the story remotely appealing.
The central characters all lack any depth, and it is therefore hard to make any meaningful connection to what they say or do (most of which, as I mentioned earlier) extends no further than shallow cliche. Meanwhile, the planet that is supposedly so precious to both races is so devoid of beauty and life that I was left wondering why any of them were bothering to fight for it at all.
There is no personality, place or political musing in this film that is attractive. It is all bland, boring and, in its worst cases, nonsensical. Very young children could potentially get something out of this viewing ‘experience’, but whatever enjoyment they may glean is not worth the mind-numbing boredom that any accompanying adults must endure at the hands of this half-hearted and humdrum space story.
Running time: 85 mins
UK DVD Release: July 5, 2010