TIFF Movie Review: Terra

Terra is one of those movies that might not find an audience because it doesn't fit into one of the neatly organized categories that we have created for cinema. It's a sci-fi story, told through computer animation, but it's not a comedy, and isn't necessarily geared towards young children (aside from a cute little robot droid which is part WALL-E and part C3PO). I would liken it to an American anime. It has an all star ensemble cast of voice actors which includes Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, Luke Wilson, David Cross, Justin Long, Amanda Peet, Dennis Quaid, Chris Evans, James Garner, Danny Glover, Beverly D'Angelo, Ron Pearlman, Danny Trejo, and Rosanna Arquette.

Based on a 2003 short film of the same name, Aristomenis Tsirbas's (a digital artist on Guillermo del Toro 's Hellboy) film reverses the age old alien invasion story, giving the point of view to an alien race which is under attack by humans. You see, much like Pixar's WALL-E, earth has become incapable of supporting life. The human race have found that the planet of Terra could support human life. The alien race is not filled with the futuristic inventions and gadgets that we would normally expect. Instead, they fly around in steampunk-like devices,live under a strict bunch of rules which prevent them from created unapproved devices (this comes into play later), and for the most part are a peaceful artful culture. In comparison, the humans are a war obsessed race with many advanced technological devices. There are shades of George Bush as one general says things like "I will let future generations judge me" and "you are either with us or against us."

Terra is more interesting because of what it could have been, rather than what it actually is.  The animation is not quite as pretty as Pixar, or even Dreamworks Animated efforts for that matter. You can tell that Terra is a lower budget effort, but unlike Happily N'Ever After, this movie has heart, story, and a worthwhile message of peace and understanding. But the real problem is marketing and demographic targeting. Terra could have been a much more interesting film if was written more towards an late teen or early adult level. It could have also been interesting to see a live-action/animated mix, with the human elements superimposed on a computer animated world (ala Sin City).

/Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10