This was the film that sank the animation house that Fox built? The film isn't bad at all; it's visually stunning, but the rest of the film occasionally plays like the studio had too much of a hand in the proceedings. Fox had wanted an animated film that skewed towards older kids and early teens (you know, the audience that doesn't want anything to do with animation?) and put 80 million into the making of "Titan A.E." a sort of "Star Wars" mixed in with some other parts of sci-fi features, but occasionally taking off on its own to excellent results.
I've often been a fan of Don Bluth's animated work. I found myself in a free screening of Fox's "Anastasia" a few years ago, and found myself surpisingly enjoying it greatly - it's mixture of smart script, beautiful animation and a few great action sequences held my attention. "Titan A.E." takes a mix of usual animation and computer graphics to combine for a pretty visually stunning experience. The film starts off in 3028, with Cale being separated from his father as the Earth is destroyed. Cale flees in a ship while his father escapes in the giant Titan spaceship.
Years later we see Cale (voiced by Matt Damon) working in a ship, fairly angry about his position in life. Found by a space captain (Bill Pullman), he jets off with their crew to find where Titan is, realizing that the map to the ship is on his hand. Also on board is Akima(Drew Barrymore), Stith(Jeaneane Garafolo) and others. The team is trying to outrun the Drej, a group of alien creatures who want to end the human race, to the Titan, which may hold the answer to rebuilding humanity.
Where "Titan A.E." may take little ideas and pieces from other movies, there is at least a fairly well-written screenplay and some visual sequences that are wildly creative. Towards the end of the film there is an amazing scene where there's a ship chase through a field of ice crystals that are falling apart. There's also a few twists to the story, which is paced quite well at a snappy 95 minutes. The only real, notable complaints that I have with the movie is that the actors who bring the voices to some of the characters are fine actors otherwise don't particularly do very well providing voices for these characters as well as the rock soundtrack, which sounds far too much like it was just intended to sell soundtracks.
All-in-all though, "Titan A.E." has some great sequences and overall proves to be an entertaining ride.
VIDEO: Buzz had it that Fox had produced a visually striking presentation of "Titan A.E" for the DVD presentation. Sometimes, "buzz" is quite right. Although the studio has done pleasing work with live films like "The Beach" or "Fight Club", their work on "Titan A.E." really brings out the spectacular quality of the animation for this feature. Sharpness is absolutely first-rate throughout, as the picture consistently looks wonderfully well-rendered. Detail is also excellent, and the picture often has a depth to it that's beautiful.
Colors are gorgeous as well; looking fantastically bold and beautiful, well-saturated and without any flaws whatsoever. Deep, rich blues and a wealth of other colors come through perfectly here. As for flaws, I saw extremely few. There are one or two instances of shimmer that are so minor as to be barely noticable. Other than that, there is no pixelation and the print used is crystal clear, with not the slightest mark or even speckle, making for a perfectly clean looking image.
Fox really did a fantastic job here, and this is a really beautiful presentation of a visually magnificent movie.
SOUND: In a first for 20th Century Fox, "Titan A.E" offers both a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a DTS 5.1 edition of the movie. Although I'll talk more about that later, first let me say that this is really one of the most impressive soundtracks I've had the pleasure of listening to lately. Although the constant, forced legion of pop/rock songs doesn't particularly go with the movie, they sound particularly good here - loud and particularly crisp.
In fact, "loud" would be a good word to illustrate the entire soundtrack, which is often extremely agressive. Bluth's previous movie, "Anastasia", also put sound to fantastic use. With the kind of material here to go from, the sound designers have left no stone unturned, with every spaceship sound, electronic effect and explosion enveloping the viewer. Ships scream through the listening space, often making me duck out of reflex. Surrounds are put to hugely active use during the action sequences, which really do a fine job of putting the viewer even further into the experiences of the events of the movie.
Bass is definitely powerful at times, and there are quite a few scenes during the film that are "demo-worthy". The DTS soundtrack offers a minimal amount of additional clarity and fullness, but both soundtracks are for the most part very similar and quite excellent.
MENUS:: There is some animation to the main menu, but the sub-menus are non-animated. Still, the other menus put film-themed images to good use, and look interesting.
Commentary: This is a very good commentary from producer/directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, who are surprisingly honest about their thoughts going in and coming out of the making of "Titan A.E." The two talk about their feelings on what the studio wanted in terms of changes (early on the track there's discussion about test screenings) or also, things that they would have changed had they had more time or more funding.
Other than that, the two talk about the various challenges that they encountered during the film, as well as talking about the various kinds of animation and effects that were used in the film. With only a few pauses, I found this to be a very good commentary. I liked hearing the views on animation and their experiences in producing the picture, and their viewpoint on developing the characters and working with the actors are interesting as well. I would have liked to have heard even more about the duo's work with the studio, who apparently had quite a hand in the process of making the movie.
The Quest For Titan: A rather interesting promotional documentary that was originally intended for kids, but still provides some cool tidbits about the recording of the voices and animation through interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. It's rather refreshing to see a promotional documentary that takes a very in-depth look at the process of creating the film rather than just going, "here's the story - it's really good - go see it." In this case, there are some particularly fascinating pieces about the animation and the steps that all of the scenes have to go through, from the most basic drawings to the final animation. A pretty good documentary worth watching.
Trailers and TV Spots: 2 TV spots and trailers.
Deleted Scenes: 4 Deleted Scenes(a couple are more like "extentions") that are interesting to watch, as a few moments of the scenes are not in final animated form.
Also: Still gallery of concept art and other animation stills, DVD-ROM web-link; Lit's "Over My Head" music video, THX Optimode audio/video tests(in the extras menu, unlike Fox's "Big Momma's House", where they were located on the languages menu).
Final Thoughts: "Titan A.E." has a few minor flaws, but phenomenal animation and an enjoyable story combine to manage to be very entertaining at times. Fox's disc is wonderful, with top-notch audio/video quality and some good extras. Recommended.
The Film B+
Video 98/A = (392/400 possible points)
Audio: 98/A = (392/400 possible points)
Extras: 85/B = (255/300 possible points)
Menus: 85/B = (170/200 possible points)
Value: 86/B = (258/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: B+
DVD GRADE: A