Titan A.E. (2000) 2 stars out of 4. Featuring vocal talents of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, Drew Barrymore, Nathan Lane, John Leguizamo and Janeane Garofalo. Story by Hans Bauer and Randall McCormick. Screenplay by Ben Edlund and John August and Joss Whedon. Original score composed by Graeme Revell. Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman.
Decent concept, uneven presentation.
That about sums up "Titan A.E.," a new animated science fiction feature from Don Bluth.
After the technological advances displayed in such recent animated and computer-generated movies as "Tarzan," "Toy Story 2" and "Dinosaur," "Titan A.E." looks relatively quaint - a rough meld of Saturday morning cartoon and computer effects.
And while the story is interesting and has possibilities, its execution is flawed.
The moviemakers appear to be hedging their bets, trying to create a product that will attract both a younger audience as well as a more sophisticated older youth demographic.
Unfortunately, the two don't jibe.
"Titan A.E. "follows the model of an epic quest: A young man on a journey to find his Holy Grail, in this case a super-advanced spacecraft created by his father. Dad disappeared years earlier in an effort to save the ship from the dreaded Drej, an energy-force life form out to destroy mankind.
The story also is a classical search for home.
Earth has been destroyed by the Drej, and the remnants of humanity have been scattered across the galaxy.
Only one force can reunite mankind, the mythical ship, Titan A.E. And only one person holds the secret to its whereabouts, Cale, the son of its creator.
But Cale is a reluctant hero, bitter over being abandoned by his scientist father. He does not want to get involved, and only does so when the Drej set out to kill him.
The screenplay by Ben Edlund, John August and Joss Whedon, based on a story by Hans Bauer and Randall McCormick, borrows a bit from "Star Wars" and a smidgen from "Star Trek."
Some of the alien characters are in that cute childish Jar Jar Binks mode, while others appear more adult and believable.
At times, you feel like you are watching scenes from two different movies.
Directors Bluth and Gary Goldman maintain a nice pace, diverting from the story to show off some opulence with scenes of hydrogen trees and space angels.
The vocal talent, unfortunately, is rather bland. Matt Damon lacks the charisma needed to voice mankind's new messiah. He is rather flat and rarely conveys any real emotion.
Drew Barrymore is more fiery as Akima, the young woman who believes in Cale (of course) and aids him in his journey.
Others lending their vocal talents include Bill Pullman as Korso, a Han Solo-like rogue; John Leguizamo as Gune, the cute, cuddly alien who is sure to be a favorite at whichever fast-food joint has a tie-in contract with the film; Nathan Lane as Preed, the sarcastic, immoral alien co-pilot; and Janeane Garofalo as Stith, the sharp-shooting weapons master.
Overall, "Titan A.E." is a letdown. It is cold and has that by-the-numbers, been-there-seen-that effect.
It's not a bad film, some of the sequences are colorful and exciting. But it has a rather worn, dated feel. "Titan A.E." is merely OK, but it could have been much more if some more originality and effort had been put into the story as well as the direction of the characters.
Bob Bloom is the film critic at the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, IN . He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org Reviews by Bloom can be found on the Web at the Internet Movie Database at: http://www.imdb.com/M/reviews_by?Bob+Bloom
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