I've decided to try and post more movie reviews, since it appears the only one I've actually posted here was in Jan 2009. And I do watch a few movies, and heaven knows I have opinions. :)
So, first up is Battle for Terra (IMDB), which is from back in 2007 but I finally got around to watching it this past week. I'm giving it a 8/10. Also, the website appears surprisingly good, I didn't check it out before watching the movie.
The story here is that we're on a distant alien world, populated by various flying/floating alien life forms including a race of sentient aliens with an advanced society and culture, but fairly simple technology, who live in harmony with nature. We're primarily following one female (I suppose?) alien youth who's a bit of a rebel. Trouble arrives in the form of a dying ship full of the last humans fleeing the destruction of all human civilization due to interplanetary civil war.
The majority of the humans are military types, and they are in favour of taking the planet by force and terraforming it, which will change the atmosphere and kill all the indigenous life. One soldier's fighter/scout ship is damaged during an initial sample collection run through the alien city, and he's saved by the alien protagonist, who creates a bubble of oxygenated air for the soldier with the assistance of the soldier's robot companion.
I don't want to go through entire plot or give away the ending, but overall I found it surprisingly well crafted. Optimistic and with a strong ethical backbone, but at the same time reasonably realistic, and willing to forego many of the common plot elements from the standard crop of animated and/or alien and/or sci-fi militaristic movies in the past decade. I liked that the writers were willing to take a slightly different path, and I think the movie was better for it. I could've done with a bit more alien-ness in the aliens (they are apparently male/female, and have extremely similar thought processes to the humans), but I expect that was done so it was easier for a wider audience to relate, and to ease some more complicated plot corners.
This is an entirely computer animated movie, and not realistically stylized or using motion capture that I could tell, so there's only voice acting. No complaints there, and none of the voices were obviously recognizable enough to be distracting.
The styling and detail of the animation is not hugely detailed, going for a rounded and simplified look instead of full-on realism, but is smooth and very consistent, and quite visually appealing. It enhances the feeling that you're on an alien world and seeing it from an alien perspective, though giving the humans more detailed and sharper look than the alien life might've helped with this.
So, all in all, quite a good movie, and worth the time to watch it. Which is not something I find myself saying about many movies these days.