Monday, March 26, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Battle for Terra (2007) ***

PG, 85 min.
Director: Aristomenis Tsirbas
Writers: Evan Siliotopolous, Aristomenis Tsirbas
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Luke Wilson, David Cross, Brian Cox, Justin Long, James Garner, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet, Chris Evans, Dennis Quaid

“Battle for Terra” is a surprisingly effective animated science fiction film. In some of the ways it’s conceived, it’s aimed at children; but it deals with some pretty heavy subject matter too. The story involves a benevolent species of aliens who have their tranquil existence interrupted by a planetary invasion by another race of aliens. That other race is human beings from Earth.

It turns out the humans have depleted all the resources of Earth and the last remaining survivors have set forth on a sort of space arc to find a planet that would be suitable for terraforming. Unfortunately for the indigenous species of this planet, that process will make it unlivable for them. One young Terran, as they’re called, saves the life of a human fighter pilot, and together they try to find a better way. A power hungry human general, however, seems set on war.

The movie tackles complex issues such as learning to communicate with a race whose culture you don’t understand, let alone the language. It carries an environmental message and an anti-corporation message, much like James Cameron’s “Avatar”. Interesting how those two lines of debate always seem to wind up together. It contains anti-war lessons. Understanding and alternative planning are better ways to pursue some goals than war. And, it has both sides of the conflict fighting for the survival of their species. That’s a lot for kids, but it’s done well here, with a firmly conceived alien world as its setting.

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