Titan A.E. (2000)

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Released 4-Jul-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Gary Goldman & Don Bluth
Featurette-The Quest for the Titan (21:26)
Music Video-Over My Head (3:37)
Deleted Scenes-4 (10:57)
Theatrical Trailer-2
TV Spots-2
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 91:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (42:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Matt Damon
Bill Pullman
John Leguizamo
Nathan Lane
Janeane Garofalo
Drew Barrymore
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Graeme Revell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Polish
Portuguese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Titan A.E. bears the dubious distinction of being something of a large scale flop. In fact, it has been said that it is responsible for the closure of Fox's animation studios, so spectacular was its failure. To be honest, I can't really see why. True, it doesn't have the sort of cross-generational appeal of say Antz or A Bug's Life, and the characters are left largely undeveloped in favour of blazing action, but it does feature some beautiful animation, and a sci-fi story which is of a type that has propelled lesser films to greater fame and fortune.

    Cale (Matt Damon) is but a boy when the Earth is destroyed by quite a nasty bunch called the Drej. He escapes as Earthlings flee, but he is separated from his father, a scientist working on the massive Titan project. His father leaves him a ring, advising him that as long as he is wearing it, there is hope. Flash forward and Cale is a young man working on a salvage ship in a part of the galaxy where humans are scarce, and only a little above the bottom of the food chain. He is approached by a mysterious ship's captain, Korso (Bill Pullman), who tells him that the Drej are out to get him, and that he may well be the last hope for the propagation of the Human race. Not really interested in Korso's story, but quite interested in his pilot, Akima (Drew Barrymore), Cale is given little choice but to join the crusade, and in addition to the two human crew of Korso's ship, there is a motley band of aliens along for the ride, including the hyperintelligent but absent-minded Gune (John Leguizamo), the lizard-like Preed (Nathan Lane) and a dead ringer for a four kneed kangaroo, Stith (Janeane Garofalo). Together, they attempt to avoid the deadly Drej, and find the Titan, whatever it is, and hope that it can save the human race from extinction.

    Utilising a combination 2D/3D animation approach pioneered by such films as Prince of Egypt, Titan A.E. is at times an extremely eye-catching film. Images of far away galaxies and nebulae captured by the Hubble telescope were used as inspiration for much of the artwork, and images in the movie compare with the beauty of those images captured from deep space. But unlike the seamless integration of the Dreamworks trailblazer, the hand-drawn elements of Titan A.E. stand out obviously, with the characters often looking a little flat and two dimensional in contrast to the wonderful depth of the backgrounds and settings. Accenting this is the style of the drawing of the characters. Although they do exhibit certain qualities influenced by Japanese Anime style (as does the movie as a whole for that matter), director Don Bluth's Disney background is apparent in the simplicity with which the characters' faces are drawn, again in contrast to the complexity of the remainder of the frames.

    The voice acting is sufficient without ever really being outstanding, but the joy of Titan A.E. isn't in the performances, or the story for that matter. Rather, it is a good old adventure movie filled with plenty of thrilling action, and some of the most beautiful visuals that you could ever hope to see. Although the movie as a whole isn't the most memorable that I've seen, I sure will remember some of the images for a long time.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This awesome transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    As with most animated movies made in the last few years and released on DVD, the transfer is clear and razor sharp. It would appear to me that everything intended by the animators has made its way on to the DVD, and thus any analysis of shadow detail is somewhat futile. The backgrounds and space scenes could at many points be mistaken for live action footage: it is only the 2D characters that damage this impression.

    The colour palette was wonderfully rendered, and there is a wide range of colours on show. There is no bleed or oversaturation, and what we get is a truly beautiful spectrum of colours, from darker earthy tones, to neons and other extremely bright colours. At the other end of the spectrum, the blacks are deep and lush, with the overall effect being one of richness of colour.

    As far as defects go, there isn't much to speak of. There were no MPEG artefacts that I could spot, however, there was the mildest hint of aliasing at the 28:00 mark. There were also a couple of isolated film artefacts in the nature of white flecks, but these are barely worth mentioning.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change placed during Chapters 8 at 42:18. It occurs at the end of a fade-to-black, and is therefore hardly noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio track keeps up the standard set by the video track: it too is of demonstration quality. It is quite dynamic, and will really put your system through its paces frequency range-wise. No doubt it will make the "demo" list in many collections.

    There are three audio tracks on this DVD, with the default being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. There is also an English Audio Commentary track, with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound, and a German Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I listened to the English audio and commentary tracks.

    As you would expect from an animated feature where all of the dialogue is carefully recorded in a studio, it was all very clear and easy to understand. There were no audio sync issues.

    The music was a mix of a traditional orchestral score from Graeme Revell (Pitch Black) and a more contemporary collection of rock tracks from the likes of Lit, Urge and Creed. Both styles were used to good effect reflecting the attention given these days by music supervisors to selecting tracks that will not only suit the on-screen action but drive soundtrack album sales as well.

    From the opening moments of the movie, the surrounds (as well as the mix generally) create a wide but immersive soundfield. As you would imagine from a sci-fi action movie, there is plenty going on all around the viewer, and you feel like you're in the thick of it as the surrounds are filled with laser fire, ships' thrusters and in one of the most impressive scenes in the movie, thousands of huge creaking ice crystals.

    The subwoofer, too, gets into the action from the word go, and pretty much doesn't stop. From ground-shaking explosions to the more restrained rumble of spacecraft in flight the soundtrack was a real window shaker. It was never gratuitously bassy, but rather a well-balanced use of the LFE channel in situations that made the visuals all the more effective.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There is a nice selection of extras - these days the standards are quite high with respect to big budget animated features, and this one doesn't disappoint.

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced, and as you would expect from an animated feature, contains some nice animated pieces. There is also Dolby Digital 2.0 sound to accompany the visuals.

Audio Commentary - Director/Producers Gary Goldman & Don Bluth

    The delivery isn't the most exciting that I have ever heard, however these two provide some interesting facts about the animation process. They speak fairly constantly throughout the feature, and their comments are closely tied to the on-screen action. They get a little repetitive in pointing out which elements of the scenes are 3D animation as opposed to traditional. Impressively, they aren't afraid to criticise their own work. Probably better suited for animation junkies, as the casual observer won't be too stimulated by this.

Featurette - The Quest for the Titan (21:26)

    This made-for-television featurette is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, with clips from the movie presented at 2.35:1. It features short interviews with some as the stars, as well as the directors and some of the effects crew. The new stuff is shot on video, and it has had a number of effects added for style such as grain. Despite the fact that it is a promotional-style piece, it gives a good insight into the process of making the film.

Music Video - Over My Head (3:37)

    This is presented at 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is not 16x9 enhanced, but despite the picture being a little softer than the feature, the quality is reasonable. It features excellent integration of the band into scenes from the movie.

Deleted Scenes (10:57)

    There are 4 individually selectable scenes presented at 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. They are not 16x9 enhanced. Two of them are "real" deleted scenes, with the other two being original cuts of the "Ice Crystal" sequence and the "Final Battle" sequence. Quality is variable, with many shots in the scenes being quite unfinished: there are even some shots that haven't passed the outline stage. The colour is also quite muted.

Theatrical Trailers (2)

    These are both presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Neither are 16x9 enhanced leading to picture quality that is softer and less detailed than the feature. The colour is somewhat muted as well.

TV Spots (2) (Both 0:33)

    These two are labelled "Journey" and "Get off the Planet". They are presented at 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Neither are 16x9 enhanced, and their quality is similar to that of the trailers.

Photo Gallery

    There are about 120 images here, ranging from concept art to more finished pieces.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

       The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Although the Dolby Digital 5.1 track provided on the Region 4 release is superb, I would love to hear the DTS version which, according to the Region 1 reviews, is noticeably better (although in giving this audio track 5 stars, I'm keen to hear how). Leaving aside the issue of the DVD-ROM enhancements, for me, the Region 1 version is likely to be preferred.

Summary

    Titan A.E.  was a reasonably good instalment in the animated feature arena. The plot might not hold a whole lot of appeal, and at times the mix of 2D and 3D animation might not be seamless, but it didn't deserve to flop the way that it did, taking out Fox's animation studio in the process. The DVD presentation, though, is fantastic, with demonstration quality video and sound, and a bagful of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Curulli (read my bio)
Tuesday, May 08, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D608
SpeakersFront: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W

Other Reviews
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The DVD Bits - Dean B

Comments (Add)
fantastic movie & dvd -
Titan AE has the worst transfer to Region 4 and PAL -