Titan A.E. is a 2000 American animated post-apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. The title refers to the spacecraft that is central to the plot, with A.E. meaning "After Earth."
The film's animation technique combines traditional hand-drawn animation (with digital ink and paint/animation using Toon Boom) and extensive use of computer generated imagery and features the voices of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman and Drew Barrymore. Its working title was Planet Ice. The film was a failure at the box office, barely grossing half of its production budget, though it received a cult following and mixed response from critics. To date, this is the last film released by Fox Animation Studios, the final film by Don Bluth altogether.
In 3028, the Drej, a malevolent, energy-based species, declares war on humanity before Professor Sam Tucker (Ron Perlman), a lead researcher of the experimental Project Titan, gives his 5-year-old son, Cale (Alex D. Linz), a ring and sends him on one of the evacuation ships with his alien friend, Tek (Tone Loc). Meanwhile, Sam and his team launches the Titan spacecraft into hyperspace and the Drej mothership obliterates Earth, which explodes into a massive cloud of debris that destroys the Moon as well, ending any chances of humanity finding a place to settle in the universe. Most of the evacuation ships escape, though some are destroyed by the Drej and Earth's debris.
Fifteen years later, the surviving humans are reduced to either living in drifter colonies on settlements made from the metal of the evacuation ships or being second class citizens in alien societies, in which they are generally ridiculed. Cale (Matt Damon) breaks up old spaceships in the salvage yard of the Tau 14 asteroid belt and meets Joseph Korso (Bill Pullman), a human captain who requests Cale's help to find the Titan. Korso also reveals that he helped Sam and Tek finished Project Titan and was the same driver who helped Sam take Cale to his ship before the Earth was destroyed. He shows him how his ring contains a map to the ship. It is genetically-encoded to Sam and responds to Cale himself, making him the only chance for humanity's future. The Drej find the salvage yard and drive Cale and Korso to Korso's ship, the Valkyrie. Cale is introduced to the other members of Korso's alien crew; sly first mate Preed (Nathan Lane), astrogator Gune (John Leguizamo), cranky weapons expert, Stith (Janeane Garofalo) and another human, co-pilot Akima (Drew Barrymore), to whom Cale is attracted. They travel to the planet Sesharrim, where the Gaoul, a race of bat-like creatures, tells Cale how to interpret the map and find the Titan, hidden in the Andali Nebula. The Drej again attacks the group and capture Cale and Akima. The Drej eventually discard Akima, sending her off into space in a pod (where the crew finds her) and scans the map from Cale, but Cale escapes on a Drej ship and also reunites with the Valkyrie.
The ship is able to reach the human drifter colony called New Bangkok for repairs and preparation for the trip to the Titan. However, Cale and Akima find out Korso and Preed are secretly working for the Drej, having used Cale so that they can destroy the Titan in exchange for money. As a result, Cale confronts Korso for his betrayal, to which Korso compromises that the Drej captured and killed Sam who refused to disclose the Titan's location. Korso also reveals that he has lost his faith in both humanity and beating the Drej ever since then, and that he felt that the only way for humanity to survive was to side up with the Drej. Determined to live up to his father's legacy, Cale escapes from the ship with Akima, who is wounded by Preed. The Valkyrie departs without them, with Gune and Stith still unaware of Korso and Preed's true agenda. Fortunately, the colony consists of a number of old spaceships, cobbled together from derelicts. With the help of the other residents, Cale and Akima (Who was healed from the wound Preed inflicted) repair and refit one of the ships, the Phoenix and races off to find the Titan before Korso. Amid the Andali Nebula's giant ice crystals, Cale and Akima find and explore the Titan with a holographic message left by Cale's dead father who reveals the true nature of Project Titan: The ship can create a completely new Earth-like planet with DNA samples of the Earth's plants and animals, requiring a huge input of pure energy (the Titan's reserves were depleted escaping Earth); the development of this technology is the reason the Drej feared humanity's potential enough to destroy Earth. Korso and Preed then confront Cale and Akima and interrupt his father's message, but before Korso could do anything, Preed detonates a small bomb inside the Valkrie to kill both Stith and Gune and betrays Korso before holding him, Cale, and Akima at gunpoint. Preed then reveals a more tempting deal; he gets to live and get paid for helping the Drej find the Titan, but only after he kills them all before the Drej can show up. Preed then beats up Akima and Cale in an attempt to finish them off, but Korso stops him and snaps his neck as retribution for his treachery. He then engages into a fight with Cale over the possession of Cale's ring, but falls into the depths of the Titan by accident after Cale attempts to save him from doing so.
The Drej arrive and attack the Titan by destroying the ice shield protecting it. Surviving Preed's bomb, Stith arrives to Cale and Akima's aid and the three work to defend the Titan from the Drej. Learning from Korso that the Drej has pure energy, Cale decides to re-configure the Titan to use the Drej energy to start the ship's reactor. He activates two of the three circuit breakers channeling the Drej energy into the Titan. Cale dons a space suit and goes outside to fix the third breaker where Gune, who also survived the bomb, uses the Valkyrie's guns to fight the Drej. As Cale reaches the breaker station, he is pinned by a Drej ship Gune shot down. Evenutally, Korso, having grabbed a cable to escape the fall and overhearing Cale's attempt to use the Drej energy to power up the reactor, arrives and uses a large laser rifle to free Cale. Aware that it may be possible to defeat the Drej after all, Korso provides cover fire for Cale to get to the faulty breaker. Despite Cale's efforts, the faulty breaker still cannot activate. Telling Cale to activate the reactor, Korso wedges his rifle between the gap and breakers and closes its circuit for good, losing his own life in the process. The Drej mothership fires its energy weapon, but the blast is absorbed into the main reactor of the Titan after Cale places the ring to activate it. As a result, the blast reflects back into the Drej mothership, destroying it and killing all of the Drej. The Titan then uses the massive amounts of matter in the ice field to create a new planet. As Cale and Akima step onto the planet, Cale jokingly decides to call it "Bob", while Akima suggests that they call it "New Earth". Stith and Gune fly by to say goodbye to Cale and Akima as the human drifter colonies approach the New Earth to begin their lives anew.
- Matt Damon as Cale Tucker, a 20-year-old human with a very large chip on his shoulder who is separated from his father moments before the destruction of Earth by the Drej 15 years earlier. He helps Korso finding the Titan. Animation supervised by Len Simon.
- Alex D. Linz plays Cale at age 5.
- Drew Barrymore as Akima Kunimoto, the pilot of the Valkyrie. She works under Korso and is determined to save the human race from extinction. Animation supervised by Len Simon.
- Bill Pullman as Joseph Korso, the captain of the Valkyrie and once an ally of Sam Tucker. He has Cale join the Valkyrie crew in search of the Titan, but he actually has a very different agenda. Animation supervised by Len Simon.
- Christopher Scarabosio as Drej Queen, the leader of the Drej who believes that humanity is a threat to the Drej, and tries to purge them from the universe.
- John Leguizamo as Gune, Grepoan and Korso's eccentric scientist. While he behaves in a very odd fashion, he is extremely intelligent: in addition to astrogation and science, he knows how to pilot the Valkyrie and fire its weapons, but he had a serious distraction problem. Animation supervised by Troy Saliba.
- Nathan Lane as Preedex Yoa, Korso's first mate. An Akrennian (a race of bat-like creatures) who speaks with an English accent, Preed is sarcastic with the crew. Having cared about his own life, he allies with the Drej and betrays the crew by attempting to leave them for dead, but is killed by Korso, who breaks his neck in revenge. "The particular alien race that Preed belongs to is very haughty, floating above it all," explains co-director Goldman. "Nathan just seemed appropriate--he can really put on airs when he needs to." In giving voice to Preed, Lane has said he took aural inspiration from none other than the imperious George Sanders. Described in the Ben Edlund 12/15/97 Goldenrod Production draft of the screenplay as a "fruit bat-faced alien". Animation supervised by Edison Goncalves.
- Janeane Garofalo as Stith, a kangaroo-like alien known as a Mantrin/Sogowan, who has a cranky but lovable attitude. She is Korso's tough weapons expert, a friend of Akima and likes Gune, not Preed. Animation supervised by Troy Saliba.
- Ron Perlman as Sam Tucker, Cale's father who saves his son from the Drej and was presumably killed because he refused to disclose the Titan's location to them.
- Tone Loc as Tek, a university student and Sam Tucker's friend. Fifteen years later, he apparently became totally blind though it never mentioned in the film, but hinted when he struggles to find a salt shaker on his table. Animation supervised by Edison Goncalves.
- Jim Breuer as The Cook, a cockroach-like alien who despises humans. The Ben Edlund 12/15/97 Goldenrod Production draft of the screenplay reveals his name as It, though no mention is this is ever made in the film. When the Drej come looking for Cale and Korso, the Cook tells them which direction they fled, and the Drej repay him by shooting him dead.
- Jim Cummings as Chowquin, Cale's overseer at Tau 14. He is openly biased against humans and refuses to allow Cale into the cafeteria with the other aliens, prompting him to go round the back.
- Charles Rocket as Firrikash, Cale's alien co-worker at Tau-14, who despises humans. He, along with his friend, Po, tries to beat Cale up at the basement of the space station, but Korso stops and subdues them both.
- Ken Hudson Campbell as Po, Cale's other alien co-worker.
Andy Serkis Frank Welker Bill Farmer Tony Anselmo Gerard Butler Adam David Thompson David Arnott Holly Dorff Ernis Gurkmar Ian McKellen Peter Sohn Wendy Carlos Hank Azaria Micheal Peters Randy Rice Pat Farley James Cameron Leon Schlesinger Ian James Corlett Colin Murdock
Titan A.E. became the first major motion picture to take part in end-to-end digital cinema. On June 6, 2000, ten days before the movie was released, at the SuperComm 2000 tradeshow, the movie was projected simultaneously at the trade show in Atlanta, Georgia and a screen in Los Angeles, California. It was sent to both screens from the 20th Century Fox production facilities in Los Angeles via a VPN.
Titan A.E. received a mixed critical response, though it did receive an Annie Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. The film was a financial failure, after which Fox Animation Studios shut down. The film opened at #5, with only $9,376,845 for an average of only $3,430 from each of its 2,734 theaters. The film then lost 60% of its audience in its second weekend, dropping to #8, with a gross of just $3,735,300 for an average of just $1,346 from 2,775 theaters. The film ended up grossing a mere $36,754,634 worldwide ($22,753,426 in the United States and Canada, and $14,001,208 in international markets).
A reason commonly given for the financial failure of Titan A.E. is its poor marketing with a poorly-identified target audience. It combined post-apocalyptic situations with childlike supporting characters, and people were unsure, having seen trailers for the film, whether it was intended for an older sci-fi fan crowd, or whether it was pitched more at children. This confusion was further increased by the mixture of people used to write and direct the production. Don Bluth added to the confusion when he stated during an interview with HBO's First Look, "This is not one of those cute, little kid musicals; this film is nothing but action." The film received 51% positive reviews from critics according to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Notably, though, film critic Roger Ebert loved it, giving it 3.5/4 stars for its "rousing story", "largeness of spirit", and "lush galactic visuals [which] are beautiful in the same way photos by the Hubble Space Telescope are beautiful." He cited the Ice Rings sequence as "a perfect example of what animation can do and live action cannot."
To tie in with the film, there were two prequel novels released.
- Cale's Story: The adventures of Cale, ending with the beginning of the film. The book chronicles Cale growing up on Vusstra, Tek's home planet, for ten years and having to move to a different place every time the Drej attack. It also reveals how Cale became resentful of his father's disappearance and how he came to despise drifter colonies.
- Akima's Story: The adventures of Akima, ending with the beginning of the film. The book chronicles Akima's life aboard drifter colonies when she tries to be close to her family and how she trained to be a starship pilot after the Drej killed her grandmother and destroyed her most recent drifter colony. It also reveals where Akima learned her karate skills, her encounter and friendship with Stith, and the reason for which she is desperate to find the Titan.
|1.||"Over My Head"||Lit||3:39|
|2.||"The End is Over"||Powerman 5000||3:10|
|4.||"Everything Under the Stars"||Fun Lovin' Criminals||4:04|
|5.||"It's My Turn to Fly"||The Urge||3:44|
|6.||"Like Lovers (Holding On)"||Texas||4:36|
|7.||"Not Quite Paradise"||Bliss 66||3:59|
|8.||"Everybody's Going to the Moon"||Jamiroquai||5:24|
|10.||"Renegade Survivor"||The Wailing Souls||4:07|
|11.||"Down to Earth"||Luscious Jackson||4:51|
Creed's song "Higher" was played in many of the theatrical trailers for Titan A.E., but the song did not appear either in the movie or on the soundtrack. Vertical Horizon's "We Are" and Lunatic Calm's "Leave You Far Behind" were also not included in the soundtrack though both songs appear in the theatrical trailer and the film itself.
- Titan A.E.. British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved on November 17, 2012.
- Titan A.E. (2000). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on November 17, 2012.
- J.C. Maçek III (2012-08-02). 'American Pop'... Matters: Ron Thompson, the Illustrated Man Unsung. PopMatters.
- Virtual Private Network
- Titan A.E. :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews
- Titan A.E. - Original Soundtrack. AllMusic. Retrieved on October 2, 2012.
- Titan A.E. at the Internet Movie Database
- Titan A.E. at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Titan A.E. at All Movie Guide
- Titan A.E. at Box Office Mojo
- Titan A.E. at Rotten Tomatoes
- IGN Information Page on the cancelled game
Video games: Dragon's Lair (1983) • Space Ace (1984) • Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp (1991)
Animated films: The Small One (1978) • Banjo the Woodpile Cat (1979) • The Secret of NIMH (1982) • An American Tail (1986) • The Land Before Time (1988) • All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) • Rock-a-Doodle (1990) • Thumbelina (1993) • A Troll in Central Park (1994) • The Pebble and the Penguin (1995) • Anastasia (1997) • Bartok the Magnificent (1999) • Titan A.E. (2000)
Related articles: Sullivan Bluth Studios • Fox Animation Studios
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