In this day and age, you simply cannot produce unsophisticated animation like the kind on display in the campy Battle for Terra and hope to compete.
Pixar's industry pioneers push the envelope with each new cartoon, while their closest rivals at DreamWorks Animation have narrowed the quality gap. Even Xbox and Playstation video games boast superior visual sequences to those found in Terra, which chokes on its competition's digitally animated dust. Article continues below
Canadian filmmaker Aristomenis Tsirbas' story, itself, isn't much better. Set in a future where colonists on Venus, Earth, and Mars waged a war that destroyed all three, Terra finds humanity's dwindling survivors seeking a new planet capable of sustaining life. They discover Terra, which is occupied by worm-ish (though intelligent) slug creatures who live a peaceful existence. Not for long. The covetous astronauts -- led by General Hemmer (Brian Cox) and Lt. Jim Stanton (Luke Wilson) -- disrupt Terra's serenity with plans to forcibly colonize.
Terra may be set in the future, but its story is as old as time. Tsirbas' overly familiar plotting matches his subpar animation. (The film is presented in 3-D, but does nothing out of the ordinary to compel you to see it in that format.) Terra liberally cribs from science-fiction both classic (Star Wars, Aliens) and modern (WALL-E, Delgo). Evan Spiliotopoulos' script alternates obvious environmental lessons and overt Biblical symbolism with blatant anti-war propaganda, shoveling all three with heavy-handed zeal.
But the final strike comes in the voice casting, which hits its mark once (Evan Rachel Wood is passionate as Mala, an feisty teenage Terra resident) but is frequently misguided (fey Wilson as a hulking military hero) or forgettable (Chris Evans, Justin Long, and a wasted Dennis Quaid). If you're desperate for stimulating science-fiction, wait for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot.