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Battle for Terra
Time Out New York Project: Issue #709, April 30-May 6, 2009
Dir. Aristomenis Tsirbas. 2007. PG. 85mins. Voices of Evan Rachel Wood, Luke Wilson, Brian Cox.
E.T. c’est moi: The major twist in this unmemorable animated alien invasion tale is that human beings are the occupying force. Due to a destructive civil war, we’ve made mincemeat of our own planet, as well as Mars and Venus. So we’ve set our colonizing eyes on the vaguely Saturn-like Terra, the inhabitants of which are a peace-loving amphibious race who spend their days doing arts and crafts, communing with nature and flying alongside airborne blue whales.
It’s understandable that these so-called Terrians would initially regard our rickety 2001-cum-Galactica starships with devotional awe. But we’re badass deities, at least according to warmongering General Hemmer (Cox), who pulls the old coup d’tat on President Obama—I mean, Chen (Danny Glover)—when he cries diplomacy instead of havoc. It’s up to Terrian Mala (Wood) and earthling Jim Stanton (Wilson) to save the day, their uneasy partnership resulting in much PG-appropriate intergalactic bloodshed.
Apparently, we can all just get along by forming a utopian alliance that seems equally derived from B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two and the “Lice Capades” episode of South Park. Doe-eyed earnestness dulls every edge, and Eden-like naïveté reigns supreme. “There’s something biblical about this,” says Hemmer to Stanton. Only if Samuel “Yell” Jackson appeared to crack open a can of Ezekiel 25:17 whup-ass.—Keith Uhlich