Battle for Terra (2009)
Direction, cinematography and
production design by: Aristomenis Tsirbas
Story By: Aristomenis Tsirbas
Screenplay By: Evan Spiliotopoulos
Starring (voices): Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, Luke Wilson,
David Cross, Justin Long, Amanda Peet, Dennis Quaid, Chris
Evans, James Garner, Rosanna Arquette and Chad Allen
MPAA Rating: PG
Run Time: 85 minutes
Battle for Terra is a CG-animated
sci-fi film with amazing 3-D effects, but the clichéd
plot is only 1-D, at least for adults.
Directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas (The Freak, Terra)
from a screenplay by Tsirbas and Evan Spiliotopoulos (The
Jungle Book 2), Battle for Terra is an independent
film in which the aliens are nonviolent and the earthlings
are the brutal invaders.
The planet Terra has been peaceful for as long as its inhabitants
can remember. As long as they obey the rules of the reigning
Elders, life will continue to go along swimmingly—literally,
because the Terrians are flying tadpole-like creatures. They
reside in tall trees among the clouds above their planet.
All that changes when Terra comes under attack from the last
survivors of the Earth. The humans are adrift in an aging
spaceship, since the Earth had been destroyed by war and environmental
catastrophe. The earthlings are searching for a habitable
planet and Terra fits the bill.
Many of the Terrians, including the Elders, at first welcome
the invaders as gods. Only the feisty teenaged Mala, voice-acted
by Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, Down in the
Valley) fights back.
Mala, with large eyes and cute tadpole body, is reminiscent
of the slew of determined and brave heroines including Mulan
(big eyes) and Ariel, the Little Mermaid (no legs) that seem
to be a necessary component of recent animated films.
Before an all-out war between the two races for control of
the planet, but after her father is abducted, Mala lures one
of the invading spacecrafts to destruction. In an act of compassion,
she then rescues its pilot—a human named Jim, voiced
by Luke Wilson (3:10 to Yuma, Blades of Glory).
In return for saving his life, Jim promises to help Mala find
her father, taking her on a perilous journey to the humans’
aging mother ship. Despite their differences, Jim and Mala
work together to prevent the Earthforce, lead by hawkish General
Hemmer (voice-acted by Brian Cox, Zodiac, The
Bourne Supremacy) from invading Terra and making it uninhabitable
Battle for Terra’s 3-D effects integrate well
into the storyline. The scenes of the battles and the aging
spaceship have the right amount of flash, while the scenes
of life on Terra are charming and creative.
Battle for Terra has a noble purpose—to create
an indie 3-D film with themes of environmentalism and world
(or galaxy) peace. However, despite all good intentions, Battle
for Terra, though a treat for the eyes, is heavy on banality
and light on humor.
Emily S. Mendel
©Emily S. Mendel 2009 All Rights Reserved