Titan A.E. (2000)
November 23, 2018 11:20 AM - Subscribe

A young man learns that he has to find a hidden Earth ship before an enemy alien species does in order to secure the survival of humanity.
posted by the man of twists and turns (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I love this, unironically. Humanity's on the ropes with classic Don Bluth animation to boot with one last hope to take their place in the stars again. Also, a really fun soundtrack.
posted by Samizdata at 4:18 PM on November 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

I saw this movie in the theatres when I was in withdrawal from anti-depressants. I thought is was flat out amazing. I then saw it again once my brain chemistry had stabilized. It took me a while to figure out why it wasn't as good that time. So for helping me realize that the idea that there is a me that can be meaningfully separated from my own biology was a comforting lie; Titan A.E. holds a special place in my heart.

The scene where the alien security guard immediately, and quite accurately, calls out their disguises held up very well though.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:11 PM on November 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

This movie is near and dear to my heart, even though it disappointed me at the time (you call it "Titan" and then don't set it in a habitat on Saturn's moon? What is wrong with you people?!). It was released when I was in high school, and the VFX work is one of the things that inspired me to keep trying to figure out Lightwave / 3ds max, a trajectory that led me to the career I have now.

A few years back, I had a chance to work with one of the guys who contributed to the film -- one of the few people I respected in my grad program was a staff member who had, very briefly, worked for Fox's ill-fated animation division in Phoenix. He and his brother had, apparently, written the code used to render the sea of grass that bookends the film. He was a good dude, and taught me a bunch about OS X development (and, more generally, MVC, before it was cool).

It's emotionally manipulative and sort of lame in hindsight, but the "Let the kid fly the ship" sequence with the horribly unrealistic but visually cool cosmic-gas-surfing bit, set to.. Lit? I think? sticks in my mind.
posted by Alterscape at 8:35 AM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

(you call it "Titan" and then don't set it in a habitat on Saturn's moon? What is wrong with you people?!)

Unrelatedly this is the same problem I had with the anime "Attack on Titan" which was not, to my disappointment, about colonial forces fighting on an inhospitible alien world. Should have been called "Attacked by Titans" IMHO
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:44 AM on November 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

Is the the only animated movie rated PG or lower where a dude just straight up breaks another dude's neck right into the camera?

I think that's the only remaining memory I have from this film.
posted by selfnoise at 9:12 AM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Okay, that settles it. I'm looking for my DVD...
posted by Samizdata at 10:34 AM on November 24, 2018

Watched it again. Enjoyed it again. Also forgot how good the Ice Rings scenes were.
posted by Samizdata at 2:25 PM on November 24, 2018

Ketchup? Ketchup? You don't need ketchup! Please, next. Move along.

I rarely watch movies in theaters, had just moved back home to my folk's house after graduating from college. I think I had just gotten a job and didn't have wheels needed to hang out with my highschool friends. Got bored one day, window shopping downtown, saw Titan AE was screening and caught it.

Saw it again a few years ago and it was still entertaining.

Seemed a little bit aimed at the tweens crowd, though.
posted by porpoise at 3:26 PM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

So I added this movie to the Holiday Club as it's become a personal tradition to watch it every year on Thanksgiving. I got busy with other things yesterday and forgot to post this (thanks the man of twists and turns for catching that).

Here's the Roger Ebert review, which nicely sums up my original thoughts:
Here's the animated space adventure I've been hoping for--a film that uses the freedom of animation to visualize the strangeness of the universe in ways live action cannot duplicate, and then joins its vision to a rousing story. Don Bluth's "Titan AE" creates the kinds of feelings I had as a teenager, paging eagerly through Asimov and Heinlein. There are moments when it even stirs a little awe. The movie is pure slam-bam space opera. Its stills could be transferred intact to the covers of old issues of Amazing Stories. Yet it has the largeness of spirit that good sf can generate: It isn't just action and warfare, but also a play of ideas. Some of its galactic visuals are beautiful in the same way photos by the Hubble Space Telescope are beautiful: They show a careless hand casting colors and energy across unimaginable expanses of space, using stars and planets as its paintbox.


The movie works as adventure, as the Star Wars" pictures do (and as live-action sf films like "Starship Troopers" do not). It tells a story cleverly designed to explain more or less reasonably why Cale, in the words of the ancient sf cliche, "has the future of Earth in his hands!" There is a sense of wonder here. I argue for animation because I believe it provides an additional dimension for film art; it frees filmmakers from the anchor of realism that's built into every live-action film, and allows them to visualize their imaginations. Animation need not be limited to family films and cheerful fantasies. The Japanese have known that for years, and "Titan AE" owes as large a debt to Japanese anime as to "Star Wars." This may be the instrument by which anime breaks loose at last from its imprisonment in the video stories, and finds a home on the big screen.
And while it's a good movie and worth re-watching it's more appropriate for the Animation Celebration Club (I added the animationcelebration_club tag). It takes something extra to make a movie become a tradition.

Every year growing up we would travel to my uncle's house for Thanksgiving with his family. While they only lived an hour away this was the only time we saw them most years. It soon became tradition for the kids to be corralled in the basement to watch a movie while the adults stayed upstairs taking. As we got older more of the adults drifted down to watch the movies with us; until everyone was watching. What movie we watched didn't matter so much as just watching together as a family.

Titan A.E. come out on Home Video November 7, 2000. My uncle thought I'd enjoy it so he'd bought it for me. We all watched it together and that was that. I took it home and put it on a shelf and there is stayed for three years. In 2003 my uncle passed away unexpectedly, and for various reasons, that ended our Thanksgiving tradition of dinner at his house. That Thanksgivings weekend I was looking for a movie to watch (back with that meant browsing through your VHS collection) and came across Titan A.E. And again the next year. And that's how traditions are born.

It isn't the greatest movie. But it's a good movie and one that's held up well over the years. But mostly, when I watch it I'm back in that basement with all my family. Even on the years I spend Thanksgiving alone this movie makes it as though I'm not.
posted by zinon at 3:34 PM on November 24, 2018 [8 favorites]

> porpoise:
"Seemed a little bit aimed at the tweens crowd, though."

Can I ask why you say that? Just because the main heroes are young? Kind of comes with the action hero heritage. Grandpa with his walker isn't going to be leaping between starships.
posted by Samizdata at 4:23 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can't put my finger on it, I just felt the tone a little "simplified." I acknowledge that there's some really grim stuff that occurs but the seriousness/ consequences isn't really explored.
posted by porpoise at 4:35 PM on November 25, 2018

Like others, I enjoy this movie probably a little more than it deserves. Another experiment from Bill Mechanics short lived time at fox.
posted by smoke at 10:41 PM on November 25, 2018

I really enjoyed this when it came out, though it's been a few years since I've watched it from end to end. What sold me was the teaser trailer with the music from Creed, "Rise" or something, but it played so well against humanity losing Earth and having to find hope again. For all that it is, I enjoyed the perspective of humanity as this vagabond crowd of survivors flitting through the galaxy looking for a home.

The animation, especially at the time, was pretty darn good. I was extremely excited for more out of that studio...which, as we all know now, didn't really happen regrettably. It was ahead of its time, but it came with the spirit of future sci-fi shows, be it Firefly or other things. It was in tune with Farscape and what not.

I actually listen to the soundtrack more often than I watch the movie to be honest. It was a fun something different.

Both the ending and the beginning of the film, love 'em.
posted by Atreides at 1:57 PM on November 26, 2018

For personal reasons, I have not watched this film in almost 18 years. However, my memory of it is strong enough to remark on the striking resemblance between Gune in this film and Molière from Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Both films were in production at roughly the same time, so there's no saying either one copied the other, but it's still a remarkable example of parallel character evolution. The same goes for the map macguffin from Disney's Treasure Planet, and Titan A.E.'s map.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:28 AM on November 27, 2018

I enjoyed this movie as well when it came out, and rewatched it a few months ago. The soundtrack is enjoyable pop and the score is by Clint Mansell (FarScape). The story structure is a bit weak in the latter half of the film, but the supporting cast is great. It's no Secret of Nimh but fun nonetheless.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:25 PM on November 27, 2018

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