Also recommended:
Recommended this month Perfect Storm

From the August 2000
Film Review

Film Review Hotline
TITAN AE
4 Stars

Director Don Bluth
interviewed in this issue

VOICES: Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, John Leguizamo, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo
DIRECTORS: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
SCREENPLAY: Ben Edlund, John August, Joss Whedon
CERTIFICATE: PGDISTRIBUTOR and Picture copyright: 20th Century Fox
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 44 mins
OPENING DATE (UK): July 28

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Galaxy Quest

The animation industry is so invigorated at the moment. Just about every major studio is having a go and each, in their own way, is helping to raise the bar just a couple of inches higher – DreamWorks with The Prince of Egypt, Warner with Iron Giant, and, of course, Pixar/Disney with almost every release.

Up until now, Don Bluth’s animated movies have always had ambition, but were always let down by inferior animation, or infantile plotting, or trashy songs. He’s finally cracked it, though, drawing upon the kick-ass attitude and multi-animation styles of the Japanese animé. And a big dollop of Star Wars.

More involving, exciting and decidedly grown-up than any Bluth-animated release to date, Titan AE won’t win any awards for its rather simplistic characters (I’ve forgotten the alien crew already). But the ever-evolving plot and sturdy vocal performances will suck you in and some of the CGI work will completely blow your mind. Even the stunning, purely digital work of Pixar looks a bit Sinclair Spectrum compared to the reflective, shattering surfaces of Titan’s jagged ice planet.

It is 3028. Pure energy aliens, the Drej, are just about to attack Earth and hordes of human ships are fleeing for their lives. Young Cale’s dad is also leaving, but his mission is more than just to stay alive – his spaceship, The Titan, could hold the key to the future of the human race. Cue one alien death ray and the earth is in a billion pieces.

Fifteen years later and Cale (Damon) is a bit cheesed off in his space salvage station job. Then Korso (Pullman), an old comrade of his father’s and his crew, arrive to take Cale on a journey. Unbeknown to him, Cale’s genetic pattern can provide a map to the location of Pa’s mysterious spaceship. All they have to do is avoid the Drej masses, find the well-hidden ship and somehow save the human race from extinction. Easy.

It’s clear from the thrilling opening sequence that this is going to be a highly cinematic adventure. The mix of traditional cel animation and three dimensional digital ships, planets and swirly energy stuff works better than almost any have before it, mainly because most of the film’s CGI is jaw-droppingly convincing, stylishly shot and is integrated so well into the scenario.

You could grumble about the lacklustre fleshing-out of the protagonists, or the over-portentous dialogue, along the lines of “You’re the only one who can save the human race”. But, these are minor grievances. It’s a gripping twisting story, the star voices add dramatic punch and it doesn’t dumb-down to find a young audience à la Chicken Run. Most impressive.

Jason Caro

Read our massive reviews section in this month's Film Review
Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction.

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Also reviewed online this month:
4 Stars
PERFECT STORM (FILM OF THE MONTH) • released July 28

FULL DETAILS AND REVIEWS OF ALL THESE AND MORE IN THIS ISSUE

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Chicken Run • June 30
American Movie July 7
Breathless (A Bout de Souffle) • July 7
Love and Basketball • July 7

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July 21 • Shaft
July 21 • Pitch Black
July 21
High Fidelity
July 21 • The Emperor and the Assassin