Titan A.E. (To Infinity Retrospective)

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Yo yo! What up, my peeps? Welcome back to the Too Infinity Retrospective, a series I created in preparation for Rise Of Skywalker. Each month, I, like, totally review a different space opera. And this month, we’re going back to the year 2000, the raddest time ever, ya’ll, and taking a look at Titan A.E. What’s it about? Well…

15 years after Earth’s destruction, human beings squeeze out a meager living as refugees on various alien planets. One of these displaced persons is Cale Tucker, the son of a famous scientist who was working on something called “The Titan Project.” Cale never found out what this project was, but it seems it was very important, since the Drej, the species who destroyed Earth in the first place, come after him, believing he has the plans to it. Realizing that Titan may hold the key to mankind’s survival, Cale flees for the stars, picking up several friends, and more than a few enemies, along the way. Will he make it? Find out for yourself.

Titan A.E. is a time capsule of a film. It’s a movie that is so 2000, from its pop-rock soundtrack, to its uneven mix of cel animation and CGI, to the fact that its got Drew Barrymore as one of the leads, that it really can exist in no other time. In that respect, it’s not too different from The Last Starfighter, a movie whose entire premise—a kid gets recruited to fight in an intergalactic war because he was good at playing an arcade game—demands that it take place in the 80s. Now, on its own, being of a particular time isn’t a bad thing. People still love films like Easy Rider because of how well they encapsulate a specific era. What makes a movie successful or not is how it tells its story. And, in that regard, Titan A.E. is… fine. It moves quickly, there’s some fun action, and even some good humor. It’s cool watching an original space opera, and remembering a time when Fox was both independent from Disney, and had its own animation department. And if you grew up with The Land Before Time, An American Tail, or Anastasia, the fact that this movie’s directed by Don Bluth should make you smile. As a matter of fact, it’s his last directorial effort to date.

All that said, the film isn’t too great. The main character, Cale, is beyond bland. The movie is essentially just a series of chase sequences, with very little narrative, or interesting dialogue, holding it together. There’s some annoying side-characters, like an alien voiced by John Leguizamo, and the early 2000s CGI looks VERY rough in some places, and doesn’t mesh well with the 2D characters at all. The representation of Asian people is also questionable. It’s not just the fact that Drew Barrymore is voicing a character named Akima Kumamoto, who is clearly drawn to look Japanese. There’s also a scene where the heroes visit a place called “New Bangkok” and everyone there is wearing a rice hat. Sigh. And I wasn’t lying when I said that this movie is very 2000s. There are so many songs on the soundtrack, which were clearly put in because they were popular at the time, that when you watch certain sequences, like one where Cale is slicing up garbage in space, it feels more like an early 2000s music video than a movie. Still, the fact that this movie is fast-paced, original, and comes from Don Bluth, one of animation’s biggest pioneers, makes this a fun enough, if somewhat forgettable, watch. Maybe give it a look if you’re feeling nostalgic.

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