Battle for Terra (2009)
Originally released as Terra in 2007 outside the US

Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, James Garner, Chris Evans, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet, David Cross, Justin Long, Dennis Quaid, Luke Wilson

Directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas

Expectations: Low. I’m not too fond of 3D animation, but I love sci-fi.

I’m a huge science fiction fan. This is a blessing and a curse. In the case of Battle for Terra, it’s a bit of both. There’s nothing wrong with the film, it’s pretty good. As a long-time sci-fi fan though, there isn’t anything in this film that’s particularly new or unexplored within the genre. It is very similar to Avatar in that way. What makes this more enjoyable than Avatar is Terra‘s 84-minute runtime. It doesn’t over stay its welcome.

The film opens by introducing an alien culture living in a tree-like structure floating above the clouds. The inhabitants of the city look like ants, but they don’t have legs and they float around as well. It’s sci-fi, just go with it. One day, a mysterious ship covers the sun and some villagers get abducted. A rebellious child named Mala (Evan Rachel Wood) investigates the situation and we’re off.

The film moves along at a brisk pace and never gets boring. There are a couple of logic flaws and the characters are a bit flat, but one expects that from a kid’s movie. The character models were too simple and cartoonish for me and some of the textures could be better, but those are complaints due to my age more than anything else. I was on the edge of my seat during a couple of fantastic, tense moments when one of the characters must make huge, moral decisions. The scenes held real weight and were edited well to increase this tension. The end battle also teems with action and excitement. The film is well shot and edited, making for an overall visually pleasing film.

For younger viewers, this is a great introduction to the sci-fi genre and many of its classic themes. I wouldn’t be surprised if this film builds a cult following of kids that loved it growing up, much in the same way that I love The Last Starfighter or Flight of the Navigator. They aren’t the best movies, but they were there during my formative years and they helped expand my mind into science fiction horizons. Battle for Terra is one of those types of films, it just came around a few years too late to catch me completely in its spell.