'Titan A.E.' is a fun movie. I enjoyed it thorough, despite being well outside the demographic to which this sort of movie was intended to appeal.
Don't do any heavy analysis on the plot on this one. It won't stand up to expert scrutiny. But it is a reasonably good tale. The earth has encountered a powerful enemy which threatens, and eventually does, destroy the planet. During the course earth's destruction, various spacecraft escape, including one legendary, perhaps mythical craft, named the Titan. No one is quite sure exactly what this vessel is, save that it contains the hope of all humankind, for their survival in a hostile universe.
Enter our hero, Cale (voiced by Matt Damon). A child on earth, he has grown up in space to young adulthood as a person without a home, without a planet, and thus without respect. One drifter among many, as what remains of the human race have become cosmic gypsies and vagabonds, who live as best they can while travelling around, interacting with alien cultures. As with all human beings, some are good, and some are not, and it isn't always easy to tell the two types apart. And, as with all aliens, the same is true for them.
Our hero, Cale, being the son of the Titan commander, contains within himself (unbeknownst to himself) the key to locating the Titan. Thus, the cosmic chase is on! Befriended by some who try to help, relentless pursued by the dastardly alien foes, the Drej, betrayed by those he trusted, he finally finds the Titan. Will he be able figure out the key to its operation before its destruction? Will he be able to save the human race?
--Basic plot holes and other criticisms--
This review would go on far too long if I tried to go into all of these. One must remember that the intended audience for this movie is supposed to be early teenage boys. However, one thing that the producers of this movie failed to neglect is that many teenage boys will pay sufficient attention to realise the plot deficiencies. Suffice it to say, an enemy powerful enough to destroy earth in the first place would certainly be able to destroy the Titan solution. And given the unlikelihood of our hero even surviving to adulthood, where would the human race have been left in such an occurrence? Etc., etc. As I said earlier, the movie won't stand up to such scrutiny. But for those of us who like some scientific method with our science fiction, it becomes a problem. So, strike one for the movie.
Alas, we know nothing of the energetic alien enemies - why they are enemies, why they continue to be enemies even after earth's destruction, and how it is that this all powerful enemy is wholly contained within one ship, whose destruction signals the destruction of them all. Oh well, again, I'm thinking too much for this film...
Strike two comes from an under-promotion of the star power of the film. I know many who might have gone to see this had they known, for instance, that Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, Janeane Garofalo and Nathan Lane were character voices.
--The movie that saved the human race and lost a job--
Strike three comes from the targeting. The intended, intentionally-developed market for this was to be early teenage boys, a lucrative movie audience target. However, to produce an animated film for this group, who are just freeing themselves of being thought of as children, and thus leaving things like 'cartoons' behind for being child-ish, was a monumental miscalculation.
Bill Mechanic, chairman-CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment (the studio behind this film) lost his job because this miscalculation (among a few others that summer). In 1994 he spearheaded the creation of the very expensive Fox Animation Studios. While they produced the wonderful and successful Anastasia a few years ago, 'Titan A.E.' ended up being a box-office flop. Costing nearly $80 million to produce, it opened to less than $10 million the first weekend, and went steadily downhill from there.
Alas, Fox Animation Studios is now completely closed. And Mechanic is out. Which is too bad really.
--Stunning special effects--
Even for an animated film (which often gives more flexibility in doing such things as defying gravity, etc.) the effects were great. The cat and mouse game between the spacecraft in the ice region of space, with so many reflective surfaces and crashing/breaking sound effects was truly breathtaking, worthy of acclaim among any science fiction film.
In all, Titan A.E. is a good film for its genre, poorly targeted and somewhat lacking in the execution. However, if one is willing to overlook the plot holes (in the name of suspension of disbelief), this can be enjoyed. And yes, a teenage boy will most likely like it, despite it being a 'cartoon'.