By the year 3028 A.D., deep space travel and interaction with a plethora of alien races is commonplace for humanity and, as often happens with the passage of time, a new discovery is made. As electricity and splitting the atom were in history, what comes to be known as the Titan Project proves to be a profound scientific advance in mankind's role in the universe; a testament to their strength and imagination. However, it is explained that this marvel does not go unnoticed. The Drej, an alien race comprised entirely of energy, deems the human race a threat and advance their armada on Earth to destroy the Titan Project and what they see as mankind's last chance of being a dominant force in the galaxy.
Five year-old Cale (Alex D. Linz
) puts the last touches on his latest invention, a hydro-powered console, before it accidentally breaks in a small creek. His father, Sam Tucker (Ron Perlman
) comes to collect him, explaining that they have to leave. He takes his son to the nearby base where he is stationed and where evacuation pods filled with people are being sent into space. Sam places Cale in the care of family friend and guardian Tek (Tone Loc
) before explaining that he has to go away for a while. He gives Cale a gold ring and tells him that, as long as he wears it, there will be hope. Then, despite Cale's pleas, Sam is escorted by friend Joseph Korso (Bill Pullman
) to a nearby hangar as Cale is brought aboard an evacuation pod with Tek. Reports of Drej fighters attacking civilian pods ring out as Cale's ship takes off. He watches as his father runs inside and activates the Titan Project; a large, spherical ship which manages to fly past the incoming Drej and uses its hyperdrive to vanish into outer space. At a safe distance, Cale watches as the Drej mothership, commanded by the Queen Drej (Christopher Scarabosio
), hones in on Earth and destroys it in one shot with a massive energy blast.
Fifteen years later, Cale (Christopher Scarabosio
) works in a salvage yard in asteroid belt Tau 14. The human population has dwindled severely over the past few years and the race is considered inferior to other alien species, constantly ridiculed and rumored to be near extinction. Impatient and tired of constantly being shoved to the back of the line, Cale defiantly rides his scooter away from the check-out point to the nearest hangar entrance, only to collide with a docking ship. He is propelled onto the bow of the ship and briefly gets a glimpse of the young female pilot within before she closes the shield doors. The pilot then sends a com-link message to the disembarking captain, reminding him that they are on a time schedule. Cale makes it inside and begins to wash up before he's confronted by two fellow alien workers who express distaste with Cale's line-jumping stunt. They begin to beat him up to teach him a lesson before the captain of the newly-arrived ship intervenes and lassos the aliens. He introduces himself as Joseph Korso and says he's been searching for Cale who carries mankind's last salvation. Skeptical and disheartened to hear that Korso was a friend of his father's, Cale refuses to cooperate and reunites with Tek in the galley who seems rather disinterested in Cale's complaints.
Korso, meanwhile, is alerted by pilot Akima (Drew Barrymore
) that their time limit has been cut with the arrival of a few Drej fighters. With the mounting pressure, Korso follows Cale into the galley and greets Tek as an old friend, to Cale's astonishment. Korso then shows Cale the reason he's there; he takes Cale's ring and uses a pen to activate a minute code within the lining before replacing it on Cale's finger. The ring projects a holographic map onto the palm of Cale's hand. Korso explains that the ring was coded to Sam's DNA, and is thus to Cale's. The map is supposed to lead to where Sam hid the ship the Titan and, if they find it before the Drej do, they will be able to give the human race something they haven't had in years; a new planet to call home. At that moment, two Drej fighters enter the galley and immediately target Cale. Korso disables the artificial gravity generator at the back of the kitchen and he and Cale follow the cowardly cook (Jim Breuer
) through an escape hatch. They make it to a warehouse and hijack a construction vehicle with the Drej in hot pursuit. Cale is injured in the escape and Korso pilots the vehicle straight through a closed dock and into space. He calls for Akima to pick them up as the windshield on the vehicle cracks. Korso kicks it out and uses a fire extinguisher to propel him and Cale into the hold of the Valkyrie.
When Cale wakes, he meets Akima face to face along with the sly first mate, Preed (Nathan Lane
), before he is introduced to the rest of the crew including Stith (Janeane Garofalo
), the surly weapons specialist, and Gune (John Leguizamo
), the eccentric astronomer. Cale is brought to Gune who reads the map on his palm and determines that their next heading should be to Sesharrim, a planet that, as Korso recalls, is home to the ancient Gaoul race. After arriving, Preed and Gune are left at the ship to watch for the Drej while the others take a boat across a lake filled with hydrogen-pod trees. They find the remnants of a temple and are suddenly surrounded by bat-like creatures. Before Korso can open fire, Akima determines that they are the Gaoul. The lead Gaoul approaches Cale and instructs him through pantomime to hold his palm up towards the planet's prominent star. Held against the sky, Cale sees the arrow on the map pointing towards the distant Andali Nebula where the Titan is surely hidden. Suddenly, Drej fighters descend on the planet and attack the group. The Gaoul assist the group escape to their boat as Preed and Gune, having been distracted from their post, struggle to get the Valkyrie airborne again. The Gaoul use the hydrogen pods on the trees to destroy some of the fighters but, in the chaos, Cale and Akima are knocked off the boat. Before Korso can retrieve them, a Drej ship locks onto them with its tractor beam and escapes into outer space. It takes Cale and Akima to the Drej mothership where Akima, of no use, is expelled into space in a pod. Cale is then held before the Queen and forced to open his palm, giving the Drej a complete copy of the map detailing where the Titan is hidden. Cale is then sent into confinement.
Meanwhile, Korso and Preed are able to track Akima's location to a prison block on a nearby planet. They attempt to disguise themselves as a slave trader and his subordinate but the guard (Charles Rocket
) displays higher-than-average intelligence. So they use force and make their way towards the cell where Akima is resting atop her pod, unconscious invalids on the ground around her.
On board the Drej mothership, Cale discovers that he can manipulate the energy keeping him locked inside to release himself. He escapes to the main hangar and commandeers a Drej ship, flying out into space with a scouting party. He is able to catch up to the Valkyrie although the crew nearly mistakes him for another Drej scout. Safe again, Cale and Korso have a heart-to-heart and Cale is allowed to pilot the Valkyrie through a tract of space. Putting his piloting skills to the test, Cale playfully races a band of 'space angels', creatures that dwell in nebular matter. The crew then makes a pit stop at a human drifter colony called New Bangkok to repair the ship and pick up supplies. However, as Cale and Akima return to the ship with a few necessities, they overhear Korso speaking to a holographic link with the Queen Drej. Korso argues with her that Cale is his responsibility and he alone will use him to find the Titan, though the Queen asserts that, despite their agreement, the Drej will do whatever is necessary to assure the Titan's destruction. Cale and Akima turn away straight into Preed's gun and he leads them inside where they are confronted by Korso. Korso admits that he made a deal with the Drej; that he would lead them to the Titan with the assurance of his own survival and for the hefty bounty. No longer wanting to believe that the human race is destined for extinction, Cale fights Korso and Preed and manages to escape the ship with Akima, though she is wounded in the process. With Cale and Akima safely in New Bangkok, Korso takes the Valkyrie and leaves for the Andali Nebula.
Akima and Cale are assisted by the locals including an old woman (Tsai Chin
) who assures them that Akima merely needs rest. While waiting, Cale meets a young girl (Crystal Scales
) and her brother who shows Cale that a little imagination is all that's needed to envision a better place to live rather than just accepting what is. Encouraged, Cale later tells Akima, fully healed, that he plans to beat Korso to the Titan using an old ship at the colony. With the help of other able-bodied humans, Cale and Akima are able to repair and refit the old Phoenix and blast off towards the Nebula.
The Andali Nebula's center is a thick ring of ice crystals which makes for extremely tricky navigation. Korso and Preed struggle to maintain a steady course as Cale and Akima come up behind them. They use the reflective surface of the ice to create an illusion as they sneak right by the ship before igniting their engines full thrust and making a break for the Titan. The Valkyrie tries to follow, but the ever-shifting ice blocks their path. Cale and Akima make it to the center of the ice pack and finally discover the resting place of the Titan. They find a hatch to dock at and make their way inside. Akima finds a library stacked with vials that are revealed to be genetic information for all animals and plant life that were found on Earth. Meanwhile, the Valkyrie finds the Titan and docks at an alternate entrance. Korso and Preed prepare to disembark and instruct Gune and Stith to stay behind. However, the pair are suspicious of Korso's intentions. They are proven right when Preed sends a com-link message to Stith's watch which proceeds to beep in a countdown. Gune removes Stith's watch and runs off before it explodes. Stith awakes in the rubble unharmed but finds Gune apparently injured. He announces that he needs to take a brief nap before he falls still.
Cale and Akima make their way to the main console at the center of the ship where Cale finds his old invention, completely repaired, and activates a message from his father. The image explains that the ship has the power to create an entirely new planet for humans but that, in its escape, the ship used up all of its auxillary power. He begins to go over the initiation process to restore power until a shot rings out and the message ends. Korso appears and demands Cale's ring but Preed suddenly presses his gun to Korso's head. He announces that he made a separate deal with the Drej; that he could live provided he killed everyone else before their imminent arrival. Korso fights back and manages to overpower Preed, breaking his neck. Cale then tackles Korso and they both fall over the edge of the platform. Cale is able to grab onto a piece of rigging and climb back onto the main platform but Korso falls further until he grasps a wire which leads him back onto the main unit. At that moment, an alert sounds; the Drej have arrived.
Stith is reunited with Cale and Akima and she activates the controls to the exterior guns, blasting away at the Drej fighters. Cale struggles to think of a way to beat the Drej and activate the Titan until he remembers that the Drej are pure energy. He is able to harness into their energy and restart the internal power system, but one of the circuit breakers located outside malfunctions. Cale has no choice but to go out and fix it manually. Stith provides cover until all guns are shot out by the Drej. Cale is cornered by Drej fire until Korso appears and offers to help. They work together to fix the circuit until Korso is gravely injured. He opts to stay behind, effectively sacrificing himself in order to unjam the circuit. As Cale escapes back into the Titan, he is covered by Gune piloting the Valkyrie; apparently having recovered from his nap. Korso uses his gun to link the circuits and is electrocuted in the process. Cale makes it back to the main platform and uses his ring to activate the ship just as the Drej mothership targets the Titan. A blast is sent out from the Titan and the Drej are disintegrated, their energy sucked into the Titan's engines. Waves of energy expand from the center of the ice ring and swirl it together towards the center. The Titan flies out of the core as gravity takes over and a new planet is formed, the remaining ice melting into vast seas.
Cale and Akima step foot onto the new planet and Akima asks what they should call it. Cale decides to name the planet 'Bob', despite Akima's protests. They kiss and watch as Gune and Stith fly the Valkyrie above them in a victorious sweep. Meanwhile, ships and colonies of the surviving humans have received word of their new home and all flock to claim it. Year 16 A.E., for 'After Earth', introduces us to 'New Earth', aka 'Planet Bob'.