Thursday, July 29, 2010

(Battle for)Terra (2007)

Before Avatar and before Planet 51 showed up in 2009 there was Battle for Terra.(Actually this was originally called Terra and then they inflated the title)

Never heard of it?

Not surprising the film was barely released to theaters in early 2009. I first heard of the film when it was set to premiere in the US at the New York International Children’s Film Festival. I didn’t attend the screening there because I knew the film was due to be release a couple of weeks later in 3D wide. Actually it wasn’t wide, it went into a handful of theaters where it didn’t do much.(When I saw it I was one of only three people in the theater.)

The plot of the film has a happy peaceful alien world invaded by a ship from earth bent on reshaping the planet for its own. Earth it seems is long gone having been destroyed by man’s actions. The humans are going to forcibly take over the planet and set about destroying the planet until one alien girl and a human pilot connect and begin to find a common ground. (There is also a dark secret about hidden alien technology, buried because the aliens have forsaken their war like past)

Watching this film again on DVD I was actually surprised at that the film actually plays pretty well in 2D (The film’s 3D was actually some of the best use of the technology I’ve seen in several decades of film going). Sure the film isn’t going to win any awards, but there is a nice edge to the proceedings that really shows up in the later part of the film. There is a grimness to the invasion where characters die, and the film has an ending is NOT what you’d expect from what was marketed as a “kids film” (the film gets several points for sticking to its guns and convictions). I'm guessing the dark subtext didn't sit well with some parents who want everything light and airy.

I like this film. Is it great, no. The film main problem is that it occasionally falls into the clich├ęs of the stories such as this, but the film has some winning characters and as I said there are some decidedly unclich├ęd turns that keep the film interesting.

The film also knows how to stage action sequences which I found much more engaging than some of the films bigger budget “clones”. I felt more engaged by the sequences here than I did in Avatar because this film used the action sequences to advance the plot, not to show off. There are also no dead spots everything in the film feels like it belongs there with the result that this expanded short doesn't feel expanded or bloated.

If you like science fiction or good action adventure this is definitely worth a look. I don't know if you'll think its the next best thing, but I do think that you'll enjoy yourself for the 90 or so minutes its on screen.

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