In our retrospective for the summer of 2009, we mused it was unlikely we would ever get around to watching The Battle for Terra. It seems we may have been mistaken, as chance has offered us the opportunity to gaze upon the film at no cost. We have uncovered a place where one might acquire DVDs for a limited amount of time then return them without penalty.
While such an institution may seem the stuff of dream or fancy, we assure you it is nevertheless real. It is a strange place, antiquated and anachronistic, dealing in bound paper copies rather than Kindles or iPads.
They call it a "library." Being students of history, we are not unfamiliar with the term, but we'd thought the last such temples dedicated to reason and knowledge were destroyed in the Crusades. Apparently though, a few have survived, and they now deal in DVDs as well as books and scrolls.
At any rate, we viewed The Battle for Terra in its entirety. While there were a few interesting aspects to the film, overall it was far from spectacular. At every turn, the film avoided engaging the intriguing questions it should have been asking. It seemed as though it might approach questions such as, "What are the limits to a species right to exist?" and "Is extinction preferable to surviving in a cage?" It could have faced such ideas - should have done so - but ultimately was simply too timid, too weak.
The movie's saving grace, if it can be called that, is in the visuals. The space ships, while not particularly original, are still cool, and the wildlife on the alien world is fairly interesting.
The alien creatures, however, are not. We will be gracious and say they look like a cross between tadpoles and smurfs. In addition, they are so sickeningly gentle and corny, it's impossible to look at their drum circles without wanting to see them get vaporized.
We must confess some affection, however, for the variation on Area 51 on the alien world. It was a simple twist, but far more clever than anything else the movie had to offer.
The movie touches on some dark themes, but only lightly. There is too much horror, we suspect, for a very young audience, but far too little for adults.
There was just enough in the film to keep us mildly amused for its short run time. Though if it had been more than an hour and a half rather than less, we're not sure we could have stomached it.