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Movie Review

In 3028 A.D., earth is annihilated by a race of nasty, paranoid aliens called the Dredge. But before their foreboding mother ship can wipe out all humanity, the sky is peppered by a fleet of escape shuttles and Titan, a gargantuan vessel critical to someday restoring all earthly species and reuniting refugees. At the helm of Titan is Sam Tucker, a military scientist forced to leave his young son, Cale, in order to do his planetary duty. During his last farewell, he gives Cale a special ring that (unbeknownst to the lad) contains a genetically encrypted map that will hone in on Titan’s location once the dust settles. Soon everyone in the universe is searching for the legendary craft—some to fulfill its mission, some to profit from it, others to destroy it.

The rest of film takes place 15 years A.E. (after earth). Plucked from his humdrum, zero-gravity job on a salvage station, Cale finds adventure on a ship captained by former earthlings Korso (a hard-boiled mercenary) and Akima (his lovely copilot). The rest of their odd, alien crew could have been shanghaied straight from a Mos Eisley cantina—creatures ranging from endearing, to bizarre, to repulsive. Once in place, this ragtag band races against time (and the Dredge) to locate Titan and restore order to the galaxy.

Positive Elements: Sam accepts what he realizes is a suicide run to preserve earth’s legacy. Bitter over his father’s abandonment of him as a child, Cale initially responds to the crew’s reconnaissance mission with a selfish attitude ("We never addressed what’s in it for me"), but he catches the humanitarian vision and grows to see his father as a noble man. Characters risk their own safety to rescue friends. When hope seems lost, Cale refuses to accept defeat and rallies a disheartened Akima to help him beat the odds. Even after being betrayed, Cale chooses to help a foe in a life-and-death situation. There’s sort of a backhanded condemnation of opportunism when [WARNING: PLOT POINT REVEALED] a double-crosser tells Cale that the human race is a lost cause in swift decline and the only thing left to do is "grab what you can before someone else beats you to it" (it proves to be an empty philosophy). When another character also reveals hidden motives, the first turncoat reevaluates his loyalties and finds redemption.

Spiritual Content: No overt religious content, though some Christians may object to science fiction that ignores God’s divine creativity and puts the fate of humankind in the hands of wicked aliens with a really big ray gun.

Sexual Content: None, but there’s brief rear nudity as Akima performs medical tests on Cale who, to his credit, is modest enough to keep asking for his pants once he realizes he’s naked. Cale walks into Akima’s quarters to find her wearing only a towel.

Violent Content: The mass destruction of an entire planet notwithstanding, several more personal examples may disturb young viewers. A human breaks an alien’s neck and tosses him down a flight of stairs. Lots of Star Wars-style laser battles. Flurries of gunfire take out spaceships and dispatch aliens (a large, comical cockroach gets blasted at close range and splattered on a nearby wall). Dredge soldiers, a legion of glowing, blue, faceless masses of energy, are merciless creatures bent on destruction. Other aliens, however, can be punched, kicked and beaten into submission—and are. Cale and Akima encounter abuse after being captured by the Dredge. In a dream sequence, Cale imagines being shot. Preed kills time by using intergalactic crickets for target practice.

Crude or Profane Language: None

Drug and Alcohol Content: None

Summary: Strange planets. Otherworldly creatures. Fast-paced action sequences. They’re all amazing in Titan A.E., which uses animation and digital effects to create some of the most wildly imaginative imagery ever employed in science fiction. A terrific climax takes place in an "ice"teroid field as ships must bob and weave around what look like colossal frozen jacks. Stylish! Unfortunately, most of the film—interior scenes included—looks like it was shot in the half-light. While inspired, the visual tone is frustratingly moody and dank, making me wish I could reach for a "brightness" switch and get a clearer look at the stuff on the screen. As for the story, it explores new galaxies and seeks out new civilizations, yet goes where many a screenwriter has gone before. In fact, familiar scenes and plagiarized dialogue had the sci-fi buffs several rows in front of me debating which space-age classics have the strongest legal recourse. Shadowy (yet compelling) visuals and by-the-numbers plot aside, Titan A.E. has very little content that will concern parents of older children. It’s a rollicking, PG-rated space fantasy that avoids profanity, sexual situations and Force-like spiritual counterfeits.

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