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Battle For Terra
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Reviewed on 2009-05-01
Received[2.5]  out of 4 stars
GenreAdventure / Animation
Science-fiction geeks will be in paradise watching this animated adventure where invading humans seek to annihilate the peace-loving inhabitants of a beautiful Utopian planet. Serious and dark themes pervade a sophisticated story on imagination overload. The last inhabitants of Earth now live on a floating space station called The Ark after exhausting all the natural resources and surviving a civil war that destroyed the solar system. They set their sights on a hostile invasion of Terra. As part of the plan, the atmosphere has to be infused with oxygen to make it habitable for humans. Oxygen is poisonous to the alien race on Terra, setting up terrible moral consequences.

The story is personalized when we are introduced to Mala (the voice of Evan Rachel Wood), a precocious and rebellious Terrian teenager. After her father, Roven (Dennis Quaid), is kidnapped, Mala nurses back to health Lt. James Stanton (Luke Wilson), an injured human pilot. They learn the two races are not so different from one another. They become friends and try to come up with a peaceful solution to the conflict. This intelligently conceived movie is intended for adults and older teens. It is too violent for younger children.

The strange-looking inhabitants of Terra have no legs and a tail attached to the back of their heads. They float in the air and move with a dolphin kick motion. They most resemble tadpoles, but their emotional and mental processes mirror those of the human race. They are portrayed as the tolerant, peace-loving good guys while the humans are cast as the evil bad guys.

The movie's strengths include a high-profile vocal cast, top-notch architectural designs, colorful animated creations and an ear-pleasing orchestral score. The CGI special effects are impressive, but the ultimate air battle looks like an expensive video game.

The story borrows ideas from "Planet of the Apes," "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still." The implausibility posed by a language barrier is solved by a four-legged dog/crab-looking robot named Giddy (David Cross). The most recognizable voice is that of James Garner playing the elder statesman and leader of the Terrians. Brian Cox voices the opposing general declaring a state of martial law and leading the human military forces into battle. Danny Glover is the voice of the African-American U.S. president.

The moral of this fantasy is that sometimes defying authority figures and seeking alternatives is the right approach in achieving a better result. This story of friendship, family, sacrifice and survival won the prestigious Crystal Heart Award at the 2008 Heartland Film Festival. The digital 3D version is available in Johnson County at AMC Town Center 20.

Review By:
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"


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