Terra Aistomenis Tsirbas

Terra Aistomenis Tsirbas

With an all-star cast, top-notch animation and an intricate storyline, Terra is easily one of the most daring mainstream feature-length cartoons in recent memory. Unfortunately, the film’s narrative depth is hindered by occasional preachy outbursts that distract the audience from becoming totally immersed in the fully realised sci-fi world the filmmakers have created.

Mala (Evan Rachel Wood) is a young alien girl living a peaceful village life when a strange ship appears in the sky. The alien creatures are perplexed by the sky ship’s presence, until a squadron of attack cruisers violently abduct a number of villagers. Running to escape an attacking vessel, Mala tricks the pilot into crash landing and investigates the wreck, finding a strange injured creature.

After rescuing the creature, Mala learns that its name is Jim (Luke Wilson), a human from the planet Earth. She nurses the injured human back to health and in return Jim guarantees her abducted grandfather’s safety. As Jim and Mala’s friendship grows, so do the difficulties they face in their warring communities. The survival of their respective races rests on their shoulders, and the decisions they make will decide the fate of the planet named Terra.

Despite the occasional moralising speech, Terra does not shy away from posing difficult philosophical questions, requiring the characters and the audience to make tough ethical decisions. While this moral ambiguity is what makes Terra stand apart from most animated features, ultimately it may be what alienates a younger cartoon audience. Still, Terra manages to pack in the stunning visuals, action and humour that audiences love (David Cross’s humorous performance as Giddy the robot is one of the film’s highlights).

Terra is an exciting direction for children’s animated features to take, blending a thought-provoking sci-fi storyline with beautiful CGI art. But I would hesitate to fully recommend this film to parents looking for a simple night at the movies. While there’s nothing in the film that’s inappropriate for children, Terra is sure to cause a stream of difficult questions on the car ride home.

Terra is no Shrek 4, and if mom and dad aren’t ready to answer a hundred questions that begin with "Why?,” then they might want to save this film for a later date. (Snoot/MeniThings)