Reviewed by GREG KING

Directors: Don Bluth and Gary Goldman

Stars: voices of Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, Nathan Lane, John Leguizamo, Janeane Garofalo, Ron Perlman, Alex D Linz, Tone Loc, Jim Cummings.

A few years ago, Fox studios established their own animation arm in an attempt to take on Disney’s traditional domination of this field. Their first released animated feature film Anastasia was a perfect Disney clone, and was reasonably successful at the box office. But Fox have since learned that the field of feature film animation is not exactly cheap. Titan A.E., their final animated feature, is certainly an ambitious undertaking, but its costly failure convinced the executives to close down their Arizona-based studio and leave animated films to Disney and the fledgling Dreamworks studio.

Titan A.E. is set at the beginning of the 31st century. Planet Earth has just been blown up by the dreaded Drej, an alien race comprised of pure energy and able to change shape at will. The human survivors have drifted around space in self-sufficient craft, known as drifter colonies, without hope. Cale (voiced by Matt Damon) is the son of a noted scientist (Ron Perlman) who developed the Titan project as a way of guaranteeing the survival of the human species in the event of just such a catastrophe. The Titan project has been hidden somewhere in the outer reaches of the galaxy, and only Cale holds the key to locating it. The race is on to beat the Drej to the location. Helping Cale in his search for the Titan is Akima (Drew Barrymore) and Korsmo (Bill Pullman), a bounty hunter whose loyalties are suspect.

Titan AE was originally intended as a live action film, but producers thought that blending sci-fi action with computer animated techniques and some nifty CGI effects would inject some much needed thrills back into the genre. Directors Don Bluth (An American Tail, etc) and Gary Goldman are veterans of this field, and they certainly inject some energy into this pacy tale.

Inevitably though, Titan A.E. comes across as little more than a dumbed-down, animated variation of the classic Star Wars. The three central characters are drawn straight from the Star Wars template – there is the brash young hero who has to learn to temper his youthful enthusiasm before he can become the saviour of the human race; there is the feisty heroine; and then there is the bounty hunter who works for the highest bidder until his conscience kicks in.

Some of the CGI effects are quite spectacular; in particular the outer space sequences seem quite realistic. The plot may be a little clichéd and strictly boy’s own adventure stuff, but the effects certainly make it worth while. The vocal cast is also quite impressive, with the likes of Nathan Lane and Janeane Garofalo adding plenty of humour to proceedings.

Titan A.E. contains plenty of the thrills, derring-do, nasty aliens, humour and great special effects that have been missing from many recent big budget live action sci-fi thrillers. Titan A.E. leaves most of the other recent sci-fi adventures stranded on the launching pad!



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