I’m Stephon White and this is I’d Buy That For A Dollar! In each installment, we visit our local Dollar Tree and dive into the DVD and Blu-Ray bargain bin. Are the movies we find worth the dollar we spent to take them home? You’ll have to find out! This week, in addition to our weekly video, we have a brand-new written version of the feature!
Stephon: Titan A.E. the next film up in the I’d Buy That For A Dollar series. Having just watched the animated movie, which was released June 16, 2000, I have one good thing to say. And that’s the cast, which features voices from acting luminaries such as Bourne Identity’s Matt Damon, Dogma’s Janeane Garofalo, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’s Tone Loc, Donnie Darko’s Drew Barrymore, Moonwalker’s Ron Pearlman, Independence Day’s Bill Pullman, The Pest’s John Leguizamo, and others. Now the important question: would I buy Titan A.E. for a dollar? I’ll answer that question a little later.
For now, let’s talk about the man in the director’s chair, Don Bluth. If you’ve never heard of him, I suggest you stop reading this now. You, whoever you are should track down a copy of The Land Before Time and watch it. Because that film will give you all the context you need to know to continue reading. The Land Before Time is an epic animated film, following the tale of Littlefoot, a child brontosaurus living during a cataclysmic prehistoric event. I’ve seen a lot of animated films, but none quite manages to truly move me the way The Land Before Time does. That director, Don Bluth also directed Titan A.E. Sadly, I couldn’t tell just by watching them. The films are like night and day — apart from their animation style.
The Land Before Time wastes no time painting a vivid picture of a dangerous prehistoric nightmare in which baby anthropomorphic dinosaurs wrestle death sunrise to sunset. Titan A.E. spends a lot of time providing a different well-used trope in Science Fiction over and over. In the future, mankind is wiped out by a race made up of evil energy beings. In Earth’s last moments, a scientist escapes with a life pod able to terraform to create a new earth. Sounds interesting, right? Not the way Titan A.E. shows us. For instance, the villains have no personality and just exist for the sole purpose of preventing mankind from starting again. It’s odd because the villains don’t spend any time trying to kill the remaining human survivors, but they are keen to stop the hero from reigniting humanity. There’s no rhyme or reason to their pursuit. It just happens to be that way.
One of my other major gripes with this movie is how space is depicted. With live-action motion pictures, there’s a limit to how much you can spend and that puts a limit on how much you can put up there on the screen effects wise. Not so much with animation though, where the imagination is literally the limit. Want a cool submarine battle under an iceberg? Draw it. Done. Want our main character punching apart buildings? Draw it. Done. Now in fictional space, I imagine there is a multitude of interesting and unique species to depict. This film gives us none of those. Our band of heroes is a pretty unimaginative looking bunch.
I do compliment the voice acting and some of the ideas. It was the execution of the entire movie that rubs me wrong. To conceptualize the essence of the movie, I’d say it feels like an attempt to make a Disney princess film for boys. That’s not a terrible thing necessarily. I completely missed out seeing this one as a child. Maybe through those innocent boy eyes, I could appreciate this one. The verdict: I would not buy that for a dollar.
Brendan – From the man who brought you murderous dogs, a slaughtered princess, and making kids fear death get ready for the extinction of the entire human race. I’m a bit more appreciative of the movie stemming from the legend Don Bluth being better than Walt Disney, yes, I went there. As Stephon mentioned above, Land Before Time is a timeless masterpiece that puts Bluth’s mix of dark subplots and great animation on display. If you are a fan of Bluth’s, like me, you will not be disappointed in this film, as it brings the same level of quality you would expect from the living legend. This film gets dark at times, as one would expect from a film about the whole damn planet being blown up and humans living on the outskirts of society, but adding in a prominent full-blown neck snap is absolutely mental, in a good way. Honestly what other director would even attempt that?
The film is blamed for shutting down Fox Animation, but, in my opinion, the real reason is more on the business end of things with Fox rather than the movie. This film was stuck in development hell for two years, racking up $30 million for a budget, originally being intended of being a live-action science fiction blockbuster. The project stalled after passing through numerous directors including Joss Whedon and was eventually turned over to Fox Animation after exhausting all other ideas for the film. It was a financial bob due to the marketing department doing a disastrous job leading to this film getting little coverage and notoriety. For Bluth to turn Titan A.E. into a film that was watchable and recouped some of the budgets was a great task.
Titan A.E.’s release date, 2000, was a transition year for animation as it was one of the last years traditional 2D animation was prominent. While there were financial successes like The Road to El Dorado most films were latching onto the 3D CGI trend and saw films like Dinosaurs which have not aged well. Titan A.E. faced many of the same problems Disney’s Atlantis had, the last semi-successful 2D film before Disney tried to revive the style with 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, showing that this film simply was at the wrong time. There were some CGI features added to this film much to Bluth’s dismay due to requests by studio execs looking to catch on to the CGI trend as well explaining the horrid blue energy antagonists, the Drej.
Was Titan A.E. the best-animated film ever? No. Was the plot that great? No. Would I buy this for a dollar? Yes. It is a very underrated movie that was overlooked at the time and now due to the incompetence of FOX. Titan is a film very much aligned to his other works with solid animation and content matter making this a film a must watch for any Bluth fans. With the FOX buyout, this joins another film overlooked for similar reasons in Atlantis. On a side note since Disney now owns Fox’s Anastasia is she a Disney Princess?
That’s what we think! what about you? Would you buy Titan A.E. for a dollar? Let us know your thoughts down below!