• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Battle For Terra

TITLE: Battle For Terra

YEAR: 2007

GENRE: Animation and Science Fiction

AKA: Terra

It is pretty normal that a few select titles end up becoming lost in a sea of summer theatrical releases. This is the time of the year when the most expensive blockbuster-type of films are released by the big Hollywood studios, and many of them have a promotion budget larger than the entire budget of some independent and foreign releases that are fortunate enough to receive an American theatrical release during the summer. Battle For Terra, a multiple festival award winner, was picked up by Lionsgate to release directly against the big budget superhero film X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the heavily promoted romantic comedy Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past back on May 1, 2009, and in the process received little press against the much larger productions. This is a crying shame, as Battle For Terra is a deep and intellectual animated science fiction film on war and the struggle to survive.

Terra is a peaceful planet that has a rich culture of tadpole-like creatures that have a penchant for art and culture. Their existence is a peaceful one with their neighbors and themselves until an alien culture arrives from the heavens. At first the Terrians believe that the new guests are gods, but later discover that it is an alien force bent on destroying their society so that they can take over the planet. Mala (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) encounters one of the creatures named Lieutenant Jim Stanton (Jim Stanton) and helps him recover from his injuries. Mala learns that Stanton is part of an endangered race called Humans from an extinct planet named Earth that traveled for generations to Terra to settle on the planet, and Mala knows that her culture must stop the aggressive creatures from destroying her home. The Terrians learn that the humans have built a machine that will change the atmosphere of the planet and exterminate the Terrians, so they must defend themselves against the Humans.

Battle For Terra is an independent film that won its way onto multiplex screens by winning several animation film festivals awards, so the limited budget of $6 million can show some flaws in the animation at times such as occasional simplicity. Despite this, Battle For Terra is an excellent story that may be too deep and intense for the younger sect but is a fantastic conversation piece for older kids. Themes such as war, basic survival needs, and genocide are brought up in fairly direct terms and makes Battle For Terra a dark film compared to most other animated products. The story written by Evan Spiliotopoulos (who has written a dozen straight to DVD titles for Disney) is especially well developed and brings up the dilemma of using military solutions to national problems over more diplomatic ones and the desperation one could have when their very extinction is a reality. Battle For Terra is more than a shoot-em-up science fiction thriller (there are some definite deaths throughout the film as well for those parents who like screening what their kids may be watching) but rather the story of a struggle against annihilation and the right to survive. The ending is surprisingly optimistic compared to the rest of the film, but it will make the viewer cheer at the end.

Battle For Terra did receive some renewed interest in foreign markets in 2010 because of the monstrous success of Avatar, which has brought some unwarranted criticism that this film is a copy of James Cameron’s blockbuster even though Battle For Terra was released on the film festival circuit two years before Avatar. This may not be the slickest CGI film, but Battle For Terra is a well written and intelligent epic that can create some serious conversation. Sci-fi fanatics looking for smart material will find Battle For Terra to be a welcome addition to their collection and is worthy of a serious viewing.

* * * *

–Mark

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