Sunday, March 04, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Titan A.E. (2000) ***

PG, 94 min.
Directors: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
Writers: Ben Edlund, John August, Joss Whedon, Hans Bauer, Randall McCormick
Starring: Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo, John Leguizamo, Ron Perlman

“It’s like an animated ‘Star Wars.’”
 – Jackson Wells upon viewing “Titan A.E.” for the first time.

I didn’t point it out to him that there already are animated “Star Wars” movies and television shows, a fact he’s well aware of when he’s watching them.

I hadn’t seen the animated space adventure since it was released almost 12 years ago. It’s enjoyable animated fare, nothing very deep, mind you. Its animated images were just as beautiful as I remember them. The sequence where the heroes play cat and mouse with the villains in the giant ice constellations is the highlight of the movie. The dark, mirrored, uncompromising space icebergs create a unique mood that I hadn’t encountered in a sci-fi movie before or since.

The discussion of just what the “A.E.” of the title meant occupied much of my children concern through much of the film. My wife explained to them early on that it stood for “After Earth”. Apparently this was a concept that just blew them away, because they couldn’t stop pointing it out to each other every other minute or so.

I suppose that’s what attracts young boys to science fiction, those profound changes the storyteller makes to the reality they know. It didn’t frighten them that the Earth might someday be destroyed by an alien race. But, they desperately wanted everyone to be sure they understood what it meant.

In fact, that’s still what fascinates me about science fiction. I love discovering these concepts hidden within the story that are actually bigger than the story’s surface. This is why I don’t like a science fiction that isn’t ambitious enough to be about more than it’s about. Movies like “Transformers” are content to be about giant alien robots fighting each other. I prefer something with a little more meat on it. Not that “Titan A.E.” really hangs too much on top of its surface concept, but you have to start somewhere. It’s a good zero gravity point for kids.

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