The last remaining humans from Earth drift along in a ragtag armada searching for a suitable homeland before their depleted air supply runs dry when, lo and behold, they discover a planet with an environment that can be converted into a life-sustaining system. The only problem is that the planet already has life forms, a peaceful race of beings that would be annihilated in the efforts to reconfigure the planet for human habitability.
What’s the human race going to do with an ethical dilemma like this? Move full steam ahead with the hostile takeover, of course.
Battle for Terra seeks to capitalize on the 3-D revolution by mixing and matching elements from the Star Wars prequels with Battlestar Gallactica. But somehow nothing about the project jumps off the screen with any sense of wonder, which is too bad because the premise is smart and not too heady to alienate young kids.
The relationship between headstrong Mala (Evan Rachel Wood) and human fighter pilot Jim Stanton (Luke Wilson) evolves nicely, complete with its West Side Story intergalactic romance notes, and serves as a solid moral counterpoint to General Hemmer (Brian Cox), whose end (saving the last humans from extinction) is understandable even though his unwavering means are unjustifiable.
The workmanlike narrative, for all its good lessons, can’t compensate for the unremarkable 3-D effects, which barely rise to the level of the best 2-D has to offer. This Battle is a visual fizzle that needed to sizzle in the pre-summer warm-up. Grade: C-
Opens May 1. Check out theaters and show times, see the film's trailer and find nearby bars and restaurants here.