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Titan A.E.

Year: 2000
Production Co: David Kirschner Productions
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Don Bluth
Writer: Hans Bauer/Randall McCormick/Ben Edlund/John August
Cast: Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, Drew Barrymore, John Leguizamo, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo, Ron Perlman, Tone Loc

The most interesting thing about this movie is what a great live action movie it would be if we lived in a world where studios took risks this big on untested sci-fi stories (instead, we live in a world where they take risks on untested sci-fi stories like Jupiter Ascending and never do it again).

With the spaceships, creatures and sweeping scope, it's like the love child of JJ Abrams and Ralph Bakshi. The only element that doesn't work is the hard rock soundtrack, and the one that could be repurposed is a shift in tone for a more adult audience.

A young man, Cale (Damon) has grown up on a remote space-based scrap metal mining operation, the kind of scum and villainy we associate with Mos Eisley only in outer space complete with lowlives from various species and a devil-may-care attitude.

One of the last survivors to leave Earth after an alien race made of pure energy called the Drej attacked, Cale was put on an escape ship by his father, a senior official in the war effort who promised Cale he'd find him one day.

Years later Cale has virtually renounced his still-missing (presumed dead) father and is trying to make a living when a stranger named Korso (Pullman) rescues him from a bar fight and explains how the ring Cale's always worn that his father once gave him contains a map to the fabled spaceship Titan A.E., which holds the key to humanity's future.

Along with Korso's hot female co-pilot Akima (Drew Barrymore) and his alien crew, the race is on to find the Titan A.E. and save humanity before the Drej find it instead and kill off those few left.

How the hell a cartoon cost $75m dollars back in 2000 is beyond me – Damon was newly hot after Good Will Hunting but surely even the salaries of the major cast weren't that high – but the movie tanked, making back about a third of its production budget. Maybe it was badly marketed or just came out at the wrong time when sci-fi was being taken over by the comic book superhero juggernaut.

But it's got a good sense of size – both in its ambition and visuals – and it's not any more than a good time sci-fi romp.

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