Battle for Terra: Environmental Movie Not Just for Kids


The tranquil air on Terra, filled with space whales and Terreans traveling in wind mobiles.
Photo from Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions.

Earthlings invade alien territory. In a switch from the standard "War of the Worlds" fear-mongering of Martian attacks and UFO abductions, Battle for Terra shows human aggressors striking a peaceful planet. After destroying our own globe, human survivors are left adrift to plunder the galaxy in a desperate search for oxygen. For all its imaginative wonder, this animated 3D feature, in theaters today, seems more like a eco-parable than a mythic tale. With an all-star cast of voices, action-packed combat scenes, and a dramatic environmental message, this independent film is an ideal alternative to Monsters vs. Aliens. Terra is an inventive and charming world created by director Aristomenis Tsirbas, as vivid as any blockbuster, but eons from the hyper-antic splash of big studio fare. So put on the 3D glasses and enter a rich realm, where animation adds depth, bringing this sci-fi fantasy into far-too-plausible focus, with floating inhabitants gliding and zipping around in lush pastels instead of screaming primary colors.


Mala (Evan Rachel Wood), Capt. Jim Stanton (Luke Wilson) and Giddy on the lookout for an escape in Battle for Terra.

The story of Human (Monsters) vs. Terrean (Aliens) pits the clever Mala (voice by Evan Rachel Wood) against pilot Captain Stanton (Luke Wilson) in Hans Solo and Princess Leia fashion with an Obama-esque president, a Rumsfield-like military general, a WALL-Eish super robot, and even a meaningful secret lurking on Terra. Yet the thoughtful and provocative Battle for Terra concerns the ethos of ecology, war and compassion in an original and entertaining way, with an interesting twist on heroism.

It's even getting surprised raves from the most jaded reviewers. Other voice actors aboard this futuristic spaceship include Dennis Quaid, James Garner, and Arrested Development's David Cross.

Partnered with the National Wildlife Federation, an earth-friendly activity guide for educators is available online for ages 6 to 14 and there’s a writing contest for middle schoolers to describe their version of Terra for a chance to win a community service adventure. A 13-year-old girl from the Green Youth Movement at the Los Angeles theatre I saw it in gave the movie two green thumbs up.

More on movies and the environment:
5 Environmentally Themed Blockbusters of 2008 and How They Rate
Sundance Panel: How "Movies That Matter" Can Matter
5 Sci:Fi Movies to Inspire an Eco:Friendly Future
Rent Green Seal Awarded Flicks
Disneynature launches "Earth" on Earth Day
Yale's Environmental Film Fest opens with Food, Inc.

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