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Battle For Terra

Spunky animated film battles Wolverine at the box office this weekend

The Canadian animated film Battle for Terra battles Wolverine at the weekend box office.

Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

Above: The Canadian animated film Battle for Terra battles Wolverine at the weekend box office.

In "Battle for Terra" (opening May 1 throughout San Diego) a peaceful alien planet faces annihilation. Hmm? That might also be the best way to describe what's lying in wait for this independent animated film as it squares off against the studio giant "Wolverine." But "Battle for Terra" is like the little engine that could, it's just chugging along determined to succeed on its own terms. And it might pick up some ticket buyers who arrive for sold out shows of "Wolverine" and just want to see something new. Such is the reality of this weekend's box office. But "Battle for Terra" is a spunky little animation from Canadian filmmaker Aristomenis Tsirbas.

The human race has taken to the skies in one last desperate attempt to find a planet that will sustain them. Unfortunately, the military feels that it has to destroy all life on the new planet to make it safe and livable. That doesn't sit well with little Mala, a Terra inhabitant who loves her peaceful planet and believes that there's a way to resolve all this peacefully.

"Battle for Terra" sits in that awkward space between between a completely kiddie film and one partly for older folks. It's too cute and simple for the hardcore anime fans who are used to more action and complexity, yet it may not be direct and humorous enough to entertain the little kids. It boasts some beautiful animation but state of the art 3D computer work seems almost mundane these days. Almost anyone can do it but no one's really pushing the envelope. Tsirbas makes an attempt to freshen things up on his alien planet where whale-like creature float gracefully in the sky. He does create some lovely images and some fun action along with a pleasing tale of "can't we all just get along." He is willing to sacrifice some conventions to tell his tale and that's admirable. But he doesn't innovate enough to make his film truly memorable.

"Battle for Terra" (rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and some thematic elements) is sweetly appealing and often lovely to look at. Tsirbas shows promise but that promise is not fully realized here.

Companion viewing: "Silent Running," "Fantastic Planet," "Nausicaa"

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