In the year 3028, a race of energy beings called the Drej take an instant dislike to humanity and destroy the Earth, rendering what's left of the human race peripatetic, despised migrant workers. Unfortunately for the Drej, the experimental spacecraft Titan - the reason for their interspecies jihad - got away. Fifteen years after the Big Bang, a teen named Cale - the son of the Titan's creator - discovers that his dad encoded a map to the ship's hiding place in his DNA, which makes him a hotly sought-after commodity for both the remnants of Earth and the Drej.
It would be easy to dismiss Titan A.E. as a mere Star Wars rip-off - but only if you're unaware of how derivative is the holy Star Wars Trilogy. They're both space opera, and more importantly, well-done space opera. The tropes are all there: lovable space rogue, spunky female fighter pilot, weird and often humorous aliens, inexorable and seemingly indestructible enemies with which to have huge, sprawling fight scenes. Titan's story, if not original, is engaging, and the major reason SF fans love to watch movies like this is to get their socks knocked off by the visuals. Bring extra socks.
Titan A.E. uses a blend of CGI animation and traditional cel animation, which means it spent most of its life in the digital realm; therefore, the digital transfer is mighty pretty, essential in a movie that has enough eye candy to give your imagination cavities. The soundtrack strikes a nice balance between speech and bombastic sound effects. I didn't even mind the intrusion of the disposable pop tunes the marketing department doubtless insisted upon.
There is the usual trailer and TV spot collection, a music video by Lit, and a gallery of concept art. There are some deleted scenes which, for once, should not have been cut, as well as alternate versions of two of the bigger FX sequences. Also included is the Fox Kids' TV special on the movie's making, which is adequate but doesn't go very deeply into the animation process, and we can be sure that the production of this movie was a bear. The commentary track by producer/directors Gary Goldman and Don Bluth does better in that respect, but still leaves you wanting more.
The failure of this movie at the box office is puzzling. The visuals are solid, the voice cast remarkable (Drew Barrymore, Matt Damon, Nathan Lane, among others), it seems prime summertime entertainment. Perhaps its perceived demographic was wrong - it was marketed as a teen film - and, of course, only children can possibly enjoy a cartoon (hmph!). Its failure spelled the doom of Fox Animation, and that's a shame. Its well worth a rental for sci-fi fans, and should find a place in the collection of the animation buff.
Dr. Freex, 1/22/2001