Battle For Terra

Battle For Terra


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Ecological messages in family films are all the rage, from pollution in WALL-E to issues of greed and capitalism in Happy Feet. Battle For Terra - which despite premiering in 2007 at Toronto did not reach UK cinemas until 2009 - adds its animated voice to some heavyweight issues so forcefully that the end result is in grave danger of collapsing under the weight.

The film - which this reviewer saw in good old-fashioned 2D but which has now had the, seemingly obligatory, 3D upgrade - tells the story of a planet where the population swim through the air like mermaids and whose chief facial feature is their huge eyes. Mala - how lovely to see a central female character for once - is a tomboy, who likes to make things. Needless to say, the tribal elders disapprove... always a sure-fire way of encouraging an animated character to rebel.

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One day, spaceships arrive. Thinking them to be from the gods, many of the folk on Terra surrender themselves, but when her dad is taken, Mala chases down a ship which, it turns out, contains a human. Having wreaked havoc on their own blue/green planet, they are seeking a new home regardless of the indigenous population and it looks as though the inhabitants of Terra will have to put aside their pacifism if they are to live to not fight another day.

There are some nice set pieces here and there but, like the air on Terra, everything feels stodgier than normal. The green issues - not to mention an Iraq bombing reference - are laboured and presented through huge amounts of exposition. This means that whenever a set-piece stops, everything grinds to a halt while the characters talk through what is happening. There is a decent sidekick in the form of robot Giddy - although he is one part R2D2, one part C3PO and one part Johnny Five - but he doesn't get enough screen time.

The voice cast are starry enough - Evan Rachel Wood as the sassy central character, Brian Cox as an astronaut who won't compromise - but the scripting doesn't do them any favours. There is no doubt that there is passion behind the project - and director Aristomenis Tsirbas should be congratulated for getting this as far as a multiplex - but it is simply too heavyweight to really engage with its target audience of teenies and the animation, while artistic, isn't in the same league as the likes of Pixar or even Blue Sky Studios.

Reviewed on: 08 Oct 2009
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An alien girl on an idyllic planet must save her homeland from human invaders.
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Director: Aristomenis Tsirbas

Writer: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Aristomenis Tsirbas

Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, Luke Wilson, David Cross, Justin Long, Amanda Peet, Dennis Quaid, Chris Evans, James Garner, Chad Allen, Rosanna Arquette

Year: 2007

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


Tribeca 2008
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