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'Battle for Terra' gets everything wrong

There is so much wrong with "Battle for Terra" that it's hard to decide where to start.

Let's begin with the story: The 3-D animated film takes place in the future. Humans have destroyed Earth. The survivors have traveled across the universe for generations to find a suitable planet to call home.

They find Terra. Just one obstacle: The planet's already occupied. The galactic travelers, pushed by a zealous military, decide the only solution is to wipe out all life on Terra.

Writer Evan Spiliotopoulos and director Aristomenis Tsirbas have created a story that makes it impossible to take sides. Normally, we would cheer for the humans, but it's hard to support them when genocide is their final option. The script's solution is to make the military the heartless villains.

"Terra" also suffers from design problems. The process of 3-D animation has come a long way but attempts to create realistic-looking humans always end up making the characters look plastic and robotic. Films like "Monsters vs. Aliens" got around that problem by giving the human characters exaggerated features. The humans in "Terra" all look like rejects from bad video games.

As for the inhabitants of Terra ... it's like watching a bowl full of sea monkeys as they happily go along with life. The design is too rudimentary, which slams against the efforts for realism taken with the humans. Neither really works.

Most animated films are now being presented in 3-D, which is great when the effect works. In this film, the 3-D effects look flat.

Voice casting is another problem. Except for Brian Cox -- and occasionally James Garner -- these characters could have been voiced by anyone. Evan Rachel Wood is a good actress, but her voice is not distinct enough to give any importance to the voice of the film's central character of Mala.

The same can be said for Danny Glover, Luke Wilson, Amanda Peet, Laraine Newman, Beverly D'Angelo and David Cross. None have distinctive enough voices to give their participation any extra value.

Finally, there's the mundane story. The really good guys who love peace have to deal with a deadly threat. That's about enough for 10 minutes of plot. Tsirbas fills the rest of the short movie with so much talk about peace and love it is like a bad '60s flashback.

"Battle for Terra" is perfect in only one way: It manages to miss on every level.

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