Titan A.E. – SF Debris

Aliens come and blow up the Earth, so humanity’s last best hope is a D-Bag played by Matt Damon. Which is good because D-Bag Matt Damon can always win the day!

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    Titan AE is exactly the type of film that should be remade. Not a bonafide success that got it right the first time, but flawed films like this that had obvious elements of greatness in them but for whatever reason didn’t achieve them the first time around.

    I’ve seen Titan AE three times over the years, and mostly agree with the analysis here, though I may be a bit more charitable toward it. It was filled with a LOT fo great ideas and some very interesting scifi details. While not an all-time classic, I do think its a film most scifi enthusiasts should watch at least once. With anime everywhere now, it seems like no big deal, but at the time there were no other films like in North America, animation wise of scifi wise. I think with everything going against it, Bluth and co still did an admirable job, creating a flawed film that’s still enjoyable to watch.

    • Before Guardians of the Galaxy, I might have actually agreed with that. After it? No, let’s just leave this in the past completely as a curio relic.

      • ManWithGoodTaste

        Hey, don’t call a way-above-average animated movie a curio relic.

      • ManWithGoodTaste

        I actually watched this movie on TV once. 1 to 5 minutes of it, I decided it was too spooky scary for me, and since there was no one nearby to impress with my bravery, I changed the channel.

        Years later, as I was becoming a massive Don Bluth fan, this was the last good(?) one from the man I haven’t watched. After seeing several reviews on YT, and hearing people saying how the movie is full of plot holes, I decided to finally watch it. Show me all of your plot holes, I am not afraid.

        And, surprisingly, to my delight, I found none.

        A little bit about the movie’s production history. The concept came from the guy you mentioned, in the early 90s. He hired 2 writers to write the basic plot. Happy with what he saw, he started dreaming about his big future hit. But the movie decided to not become real. For years, despite millions being poured into it, not a single frame was shot. Only concept art was produced. Joss Whedon was brought in very late, and he wrote most of the screenplay, and of course the dialogue. Still, not a single frame show. Don Bluth and Gary Goldman were brought last, to HOPEFULLY finally DO something. Bluth did not want to direct, since he did not like science fiction and, this is my personal theory, had his ego bruised when nobody gave him a choice of what project to direct. He was also the character designer for all his prior works, and he was now being given a project with the characters almost completely visualized by someone else.

        Fox wanted a Star Wars killer, but did not want to give the team more money or time (Bluth ended up directing MORE minutes than originally agreed). Bluth wanted to make the cold science fiction more relatable by tweaking the characters a little bit, and giving Cale a character arc, as well as adding a hopeful message to the film (don’t give up on your dreams, and do anything to try to achieve them). Glen Ballard, in charge of music, wanted to find bands that would appeal to teenage boys. And yes, Bluth really did not want to direct serious science fiction.

        Despite that, it does not matter, at least for me, what anyone wanted. I found the final result to my liking.

        Fun fact #1: due to the limited running time, Don and Gary decided to cram as much explanation of what’s happening into small suggestions, visual, or otherwise. For example, the Drej have a hivemind, which is why they cannot comprehend creative thinking, individually. That is why their cells are so easy to break free from: they are build for the Drej drones, who would never come up with the solution. The Gauol were allies of humans, which is why the Drej destroyed their civilization on the moon. The gauol also were friends with Cale’s father (almost spelled out in the movie). Those are the reasons why they are helping a group of humans to find something that might pay back the Drej. Why was Akima okay after a couple of hours, despite being shot through the shoulder? BECAUSE HUMANS HAVE TECHNOLOGY FOR TREATING BLASTER WOUNDS IN A FEW SECONDS, AS SHOWN IN THE BEGINNING OF THE FILM.

        Anyway, I am done defending this movie. As should be obvious, I like it a whole lot. Even bought the two short prequel novels (written by someone who actually paid attention to the script at the time to be consistent tone and plot-wise) which provide some world building.

        I understand that the movie was a bit too short and explanations for the plot important questions were way too brief to most people. I understand that even 5 more minutes would allow the story to appeal to more people who then won’t complain about how the film explained nothing. I understand.

        But you know what? One person who worked on the production actually liked all of it, and had fun all the way. That human being was the soundtrack composer, Graeme Revell. He composed an hour of great orchestral and electronic music, and thankfully, it is now available on CD.

        P.S. The song CD actually introduced me to a lot of bands. The Urge, Bliss 66, Electrasy, Splashdown…….

  2. I really enjoy this movie, and I think some things are better left untold just as some things are better left un shown. This is an example.

  3. I really enjoy this movie, but won’t argue the story is a bit weak. The visuals are still breathtaking and I can’t think of too many animated films that can hold up to it. One thing that was done really well, and I had hoped you would mention it, is a little fact even I didn’t notice until a few months ago while introducing the movie to my own kids; Tek is blind. Not once is it mentioned that he is, you have to watch the clues to get it.

    To this day we still quote the ‘intelligent guard’ lines. One of the best scenes in movie history.

    All in all, it is definitely worth watching.

  4. 21:00 – If the entire ship is made of energy and touching the walls zaps him, why doesn’t touching the floor zap him?

    Whether it’s a ship, or an ice chunk, or just the reflection of one doesn’t make a difference. It’s still best to avoid hitting it.

  5. This was one of my favorite animated sci fi movies when I was younger. Now, the story could have been a little stronger, but I can’t agree that it doesn’t do a good job with the world building. This movie doesn’t tell nearly as much as it shows, but I personally see that as one of its strengths. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know exactly why the Drej attacked, though I believe the DVD extras mentioned that they were frightened that humans found a way to harness massive amounts of energy to terraform at an unheard of scale. They were basically afraid we would do the same thing that happened at the end, use them to power the Titan.

    It also doesn’t really matter why the Gaoul were willing to try and save everyone, even if it meant losing some of their own. It’s pretty obvious that they’re doing it for the father. I would have been a little more bothered by them cutting to a flashback of whatever built that relationship, or if the movie unnecessarily told us. They were an incredibly mysterious and secretive race, to the point that even Korso didn’t recognize them. I think it’s fitting that whatever transpired in the past was hidden from us, especially since no one on the crew knew either.

    Ultimately, I believe the movie is underrated. It had amazing visuals, unique ideas and concepts that I wish they could have explored more, some amusing trope-defying moments, and a decent story that is family friendly but also knows when to be a little dark or tense at times. That isn’t bad for a movie that had heavy time and budget constraints, and was outside the animators normal comfort zones. I personally just wish that they had less constraints and/or made it into a mini-series. At times, the pace is just a little too quick. If it had been a series, they could have spent a lot more time on the different worlds, really shown the way humanity was struggling, and maybe given us a little more behind the motivations of the Drej and Gaoul.

  6. TragicGuineaPig

    The Drej: Vorlons. Think about it.

    So the ring is pretty much everything. How prrrecccioussss.

    • TragicGuineaPig

      Treat a laser wound by sleeping it off – why not? It works in role playing games. Sleeping restores all hit points, remember?

    • TragicGuineaPig

      I have to make an observation about the animation. The blending of CGI backgrounds with 2D animated characters make it look a bit disjointed to me. It felt very similar to when they use green screen to make actors look like they’re in an environment but don’t do a good job of it. The backgrounds had depth, but by comparison, the characters looked flat. As a result, it felt to me like they didn’t really belong in those backgrounds. I think if the character animation had been done in more detail, it might have worked.

  7. ManWithGoodTaste

    Darn it, I made the wrong post.

    Anyway, one more thing: if you at least remotely like the film, it will be a good idea to watch it again with commentary on. You’ll learn a LOT.

  8. I’ve never seen an SF Debris video but I LOVE Titan A.E. and it was actually a big part of my childhood so I had to check this video out. I probably saw it about once a month for most of my childhood. I felt so mature watching it. I don’t know how my mom heard about it but she knew that I liked Star Wars and I think that’s why she rented it. I recently saw it again about a year ago. I still love it. The animation is unique. The characters are enjoyable to watch… well… Stiff and Goon aren’t quite as funny as I remember them but still! I also love the soundtrack, still, to this day but I am a bit of a 90’s chick so that’s probably why. I see what you mean about lack of world building but every movie has some flaw.

  9. I’m pretty sure those hydrogen trees were genetically engineered as a fuel source or weapon, not naturally evolved. Of course I base that purely on the fact that it’s the only thing I can imagine that makes ANY kind of logical sense outside of “we wanted a series of explosions in this scene.” I REALLY liked this movie, it came out when I was 15, but I still unironically loved all things animation (I never went through that “x is for kids” phase like most teenagers.) I of course acknowledge the flaws, but that didn’t stop me from making my default internet handle “Wakeangel2001,” a direct reference to the nebulous mantas from this movie and the year I made it up. I wish the exposition and world building could have been a bit cleaner, but there IS some delightful hard sci-fi in this thing, like that toy he’s playing with at the beginning (which operates on the same principals as an ACTUAL flying jetpack you can get today) and the concept of the “vacuum ion engines that never deplete,” which is a reference to zero point energy (the idea that empty space is teeming with virtual particles that pop in and out of existence billions of times a second, and if it could be tapped a cubic centimeter of space could boil all of the oceans on Earth…or power an interstellar spacecraft pretty much indefinitely.)

  10. Titan AE is perhaps the most flawed movie in my personal top 10 favorite movies. I still remember seeing it in theaters with my best friend and the two of us talking afterwards how most sci-fi assumes that when mankind makes it to the stars the humans will be greater or at least equal to what we find out there and this was the first time we’d seen something that had humanity as second class nomads. I know other stuff does that and Titan AE probably wasn’t the first but it was the first I saw to do that.

    Honestly learning about the production troubles that this movie went through I find it kind of shocking that the movie is as good as it is. I would love to see a remake or remaster of this movie at some point.

  11. LOL I _just_ rewatched this film the other day. I remember when it was out in theaters and I asked my dad (several times) if we could go see it, but my family was fairly poor so seeing movies in a theater was a rare treat. I do agree that is has its flaws, and it has some really good moments too. After I watched it the other night, my sister and I discussed it and we came to one conclusion: MINISERIES! This movie would have done GREAT as a miniseries! One of my biggest issues with the movie was that it was too fast paced, trying to cram so much plot into a movie’s run time. But if it had been a miniseries, there’s just so much MORE that could’ve been explored; more character development, more world building, more backstory, more ALIENS! I mean it’s still decent, visually appealing, and was different at the time of it’s release, but it could’ve been great. And fyi I’m a 25yro girl, and I wanted to see this SO BADLY when I was a kid!

  12. As for those weird bat alien creatures, I got from the movie that the main character’s father has been there and had a relationship with them which is why they’re willing to help.

  13. Titan AE is… A waste. The story has potential both on the strength of the voice acting and on the grand premise but it’s ultimately dumb, dumb, dumb in execution. Instead of going from location to location, the movie would have done well to give these characters more time to BE characters. The visuals are amazing, but they’re mixed with awful 90s CGI. Look at dem NURBS! When was the movie made again?

    It had potential because really – how many true space opera animated movies do we actually have? And I’m not counting Treasure Planet. It’s this and, erm… Heavy Metal 2000? Help me out here. I desperately wanted to like Titan AE, but the whole thing feels like DBZ filler – it’s stalling for time while accomplishing very little. And that’s a cryin’ shame.

  14. Rough around the edges though it may be, Titan AE I find is still perfectly watchable, and has it’s moments. I still like to watch it on occasions if I’m in the mood for a straightforward space adventure. It’s certainly not as…questionable in quality as either Heavy Metal film.

    A couple of Chuck’s complaints I find a little silly. Why did the Drej attack humans? Well, I’d say being able to create a planet out of random space crap is a pretty big deal, so they obviously don’t want a new galactic superpower to threaten them, as the film more or less states in basic terms. It’s like asking why the rest of the galaxy in Star Wars would be worried about the Death Star.

  15. I still haven’t seen this movie, but I kinda like the slinky-legs alien lady. Definitely a bold creative choice to have a main character with such weird posture and who takes up so much horizontal space, and helps break out of the “everyone (even the energy beings) are humanoid bipeds” pattern slightly.

  16. The Dredge use the Drudge Report? Don’t you mean Dredge Report? Ha ha…

    Anyway, I always thought this movie was just kinda mediocre. Some neat ideas in there for sure, but the animation never really gelled for me. There’s a clear line of separation between the hand drawn and cgi elements that I find jarring at times. It was made in the early days of combining both animation styles so I suppose it can be forgiven in that respect.

  17. Can you please either use a different player or upload it to somewhere else because it keeps crashing.

  18. I’m the one who saw it on his “sweet spot” age. Love it and re-watching it every few years 🙂

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