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Battle for Terra (**)
directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas
by Evan Spiliotopoulos, from a story by Aristomenis Tsirbas
Battle for Terra
Principal Cast
Chad Allen -- Terrian Scientist (voice)
Rosanna Arquette -- Professor Lina (voice)
Bill Birch -- Terrian #2 (voice)
Brooke Bloom -- Technician Quinn (voice)
Tom Connolly -- Technician Williams (voice)
Brian Cox -- General Hemmer (voice)
David Cross -- Giddy (voice)
Beverly D'Angelo -- Interrogator Wright (voice)
Jim Devoti -- Colonel Wheeler (voice)
Chris Evans -- Stewart Stanton (voice)
James Garner -- Doron (voice)
Danny Glover -- President Chen (voice)
Mark Hamill -- Elder Orin (voice)
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

I really wanted to enjoy this 3-D animated science fiction movie. It is a real sf film, not in that increasingly common genre of animated movie I think of as "guinea pigs in space." It has a good heart, and some cute characters. Sadly, it is also boring for long stretches. Young children may enjoy it.

Evan Spiliotopoulos has written a lot of direct-to-video Disney movies, for example Jungle Book II and Lion King 1. Aristomenis Tsirbas created the story and characters as a seven minute animated short in 2003. I haven't seen the short, but it may be better than the feature film.

I don't want to be too hard on Battle for Terra. It is a pretty film, and it tries to be a thoughtful film. The characters are cute. But "cute" is really not characterization, nor is "spunky" and "bright," and that exhausts everything you can say about the main character. She might very well be able to carry a seven minute short, but not a feature. The other main character is yet another cute robot, who goes boop beep and looks up at you with big eyes.

I give the writers credit for at least trying to put some science into the film -- the aliens speak a different language, breathe a different atmosphere, and have attained peace and love and oneness with the universe only at a price. But the fundamental plot device, a terraforming machine that looks a lot like the red goop delivery system in Star Trek, is no more plausible than the much derided Star Trek version, and the countdown to destruction, as one side battles to destroy the terraforming machine and the other to protect it, is an awful lot like the ending to Star Trek, only much less exciting.

Some critics, notably Roger Ebert, are touting Battle for Terra as better than Star Trek. This seems to me a kind of reverse snobbery, picking an obscure children's film that failed at the box-office over a blockbuster that is already on the top 100 list. To complain about one and praise the other is to apply a double standard.

Copyright © 2009 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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