Battle For Terra review (DVD)

You have to admire anyone who makes a feature length animation these days. Quite rightly, the comparisons with Pixar are bound to be at the forefront of people’s minds, and while the game-changing work of John Lasseter and co. means that rivals have had to up their collective game, inevitably they fall short of the standards set in recent years.

Battle for Terra is a case in point. The planet of Terra is inhabited by curious E.T./tadpole-shaped creatures who travel around in quaintly primitive flying vehicles where gravity is seemingly absent. Or at least partially absent, it’s hard to tell. Despite this slight anomaly, Terra has its own unique look. Boats and planes float by at a pleasing range of distances from the viewer and it looks like a fun place to live.

It’s also totally peaceful with everyone living in perfect harmony to the extent that new ideas are banned so as not to upset the equilibrium. Then one day, the last of the humans (who, predictably, have exhausted their own planet’s resources and moved on) come to take control of Terra and use it for themselves. However, doing so will mean altering the atmosphere and rendering it inhospitable for the Terrians. In the course of their attack, one brave young female called Mala (Wood) fights back when her father is abducted and manages to bring an alien spacecraft down. Its pilot Jim (Wilson) is injured but not killed in the crash, and in the hope of finding out where her father is, Mala takes him back to her home to nurse him back to health.

While the plot parallels with recent films and indeed much older ones are immediately apparent, this is a perfectly adequate tale of honour and bravery, love and hate, right and wrong. The voice cast is excellent, with Cox the most memorable among the many star names and it’s good to see that Hamill is still peddling his wares in a galaxy far, far away. But there’s a distinct lack of humour and given the serious nature of the story it makes Battle for Terra a curiously joyless experience. As morality tales for kids go it does its job well enough, but it’s just not sufficiently original or outstanding to make it truly memorable.

EXTRAS None. And keep in mind this film got a 3D release theatrically, but is here on DVD in 2D only.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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