Battle For Terra Talkback

Last night ASIFA-Hollywood held a membership screening of Battle For Terra which opens theatrically today in the United States. I saw the film last year at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, where it won the prize for Best Feature. A lot of us (myself included) were bummed that Sita Sings The Blues didn’t win the prize, but we still admired Terra (as it was called then) for its storytelling and visual scope.

Now in 3-D, and away from festival competition, I watched the film again last night — and I have to admit I enjoyed it a lot more the second time around. I even think the 3-D enhanced the experience. I did a Q & A with director/co-writer Aristomenis Tsirbas after the screening and was amazed to learn that the entire film was produced in L.A. with a crew of 20 people, in a building on the corner of Wilshire and LaBrea, over a period of two years. Tsirbas, a Hollywood effects animator, spent years working on the concept, originally conceived as a live action film – and spent many hours of down time creating a short which he used to sell the concept to investors. Despite its all-star voice cast, Battle For Terra is an independent film in the truest sense of the term. It had an extremely low budget and was made way outside the traditional studio system. And it’s turned out to be quite an entertaining little sci-fi family film.

If you’ve seen it, please comment below.


  • mike

    i’m seein it tonight. and i’m pretty excited.. even if it’s not that great it will be money much better spent than on wolverine.

  • http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=052C631F61EE2838 Iain

    It’s not showing in Canada.

    I guess most theatre owners overlooked “Terra” due to all the blockbusters arriving in the following weeks. (This includes this week’s “Wolverine”)

  • Tristan

    Sadly the buzz for this film is pretty bad, most film sites think that it’s going to be horrible. Here’s hoping they are wrong.

  • http://themahk.blogspot.com/ Mark

    I saw this in Ottawa as well. The designs for the aliens felt a bit uncomfortable and Dave Cross didn’t feel very natural in his role, but I did enjoy the scope of the film as well as the environment. I had walked into the film a few minutes late, but it was pretty incredible for me to round the corner and see the whole screen filled with the image of giant sky whales from one of the first scenes. I can only imagine that the 3-D would help this film more then hurt it.

  • http://asteriskpix.blogspot.com richard o’connor

    It’s not a good film.

    It has its merits but the narrative and character choices are puzzling.

    There will probably be a number of people bashing the picture, as I’ve said -it’s not a good film -but it doesn’t deserve the harshness I’ve heard from many animators.

  • http://www.theanimationcritic.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

    I haven’t heard terribly great things about, either. I can understand getting the best out a film on a low budget, but if it doesn’t have a good story or interesting characters to go with it, then it’s not going to stick with people.

  • http://saturdaymorningcentral.com Tommy

    I saw the trailer and thought it looked like a horrible Star Wars ripoff, but I guess I’ll give it a shot.

  • Inkan1969

    The commercials on Cartoon Network are horrible. You absolutely can’t tell at all what the plot is from them. All you see is a lot of fighting, no clue as to who’s fighting who for what. The ad campaign’s really screwed this movie. :-(

  • Debbie

    Iain, it’s not showing in Canada because no Canadian film distributor purchased the Canadian rights for the film. Considering Terra opened last night to a screen average of just over $200 ( yes, you read that correctly ) it appears they made a sound financial decision .

  • Matt Sullivan

    This film seems…like it falls into that very strange…independently produced fantasy films that don’t make much money, cost only a little to make, and yet somehow they still managed to pay for some pretty big Hollywood celebrity voice actors.

  • Charles Wilson

    Y’know, I skipped this at Ottawa ’cause it didn’t seem all that interesting. Having just seen it, I’m floored by the quality of what I just saw. I understand completely why Terra won best feature in Ottawa. Was it a perfect film? Nope. But I only found one thing that I felt was a flaw (reuse of character design made it difficult to tell some characters apart in a few action sequences) and it was easy to overlook when you consider the quality of the story, editing, voice acting and sound added to the overall visuals. Lastly, the 3D effect was nice, but it was completely unnecessary IMO. Can’t wait to add this to my DVD collection!

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    and yet somehow they still managed to pay for some pretty big Hollywood celebrity voice actors.

    They manage to do that by finding celebrities who will work for scale or close to that up front, with the possibility of some sort of profit participation after release.

    It’s easy for the movie, they get the celebrity without blowing their budget and it’s easy for the celebrity, a couple days work scheduled into their available down time and they know that no one’s live-action career was ever hurt by being a voice in a bad cartoon.

  • http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=052C631F61EE2838 Iain

    Debbie – “Iain, it’s not showing in Canada because no Canadian film distributor purchased the Canadian rights for the film.”

    Oh, that’s what I meant. Well I think the Canadian distributors like Alliance, Maple, and TVA barley noticed the film despite it’s Ottawa win.

    “Considering Terra opened last night to a screen average of just over $200 it appears they made a sound financial decision.”

    I can see why, though usually Lionsgate is open to making and releasing all sorts of low budget works onto the screen. As for opening weekend grosses, fortunatley it didn’t pull a “Delgo”. It made over a million with $916 hundred per screen.

  • http://www.yarhouse.com brad yarhouse

    I saw it at Ottawa with my 10 year old daughter and we both loved it. I thought it had a thought provoking story. She loved the adventure and has asked me over and over when we could see it again.

  • http://www.adam.piettes.com Adam of the Redwoods

    I wonder if Delgo’s weak performance also weakened Terra’s? I mean, if Delgo came first and people saw it or didn’t like it, does anyone feel it would impact the audience into NOT seeing Terra?

  • ManekiNeko

    I haven’t seen it, but I’m glad there’s finally a science-fiction film that portrays humans as we actually are, rather than glorifying us as a superior lifeform. If we ever mastered space travel, we would almost certainly conquer other planets and enslave their inhabitants, just like we had with other countries during the period of colonization.

  • Tom C.

    Jerry,

    please post a transcript of the Q&A with Meni. As has been asked, I too would like to know the budget for the film.
    As an industry vet, whose shadow has had the opportunity to darken the hallways of efx studios and Movie Lots, I salute Meni and his team for their accomplishment.
    My wife and I had the joy of supporting this film by driving 50 plus miles one-way to see the film projected in digital 3D. It felt great to support this independent work, and we look forward to seeing many more from small independents.
    As far as the negative comments from others – they completely miss the accomplishment – the milestone that was achieved here, you made your movie, and got it released. Way to go!!!
    I am proud of you, and I salute you, for I believe that this is the start of a new era of independent storytellers, combined with the new digital projector equipped movie theatres and the availability of affordable hardware and software tools and the talented artisans to wield them – it’s an awesome time to be a content creator and content owner. You’ve proven you know how to play a guitar, and like all great musicians, they only get better the more they practice, compose and play. Thanks for sharing your vision, and thanks for refusing to give up!
    Tom Cesarz
    Industrial Light & Magic – Alumnus

  • Debbie

    “It made over a million with $916 per screen.”

    This is an absolutely disastrous opening for the first week of any film and not much better than Delgo when you consider that there is a premium of anywhere from $3-$5 on the ticket price of 3D films.

  • yvette kaplan

    Tom C. is right. I saw the film in Ottawa and was completely surprised by how fully I was pulled into the story. I was quite moved and came away with a great respect for this relatively little film.
    I saw it again the other night in 3D and again was surprised; it didn’t dim on second viewing. The 3D, though not necessary, worked very well and frankly had more impact than it did in Monsters Vs. Aliens. And once again I found myself rooting for the characters and caring about the outcome. It’s a finely crafted story well worth telling, and surprisingly formula free. No small accomplishment there. But the biggest surprise of the night was finding out the humble and inspiring story of the making of the film. A wonderment right up there with those magical flying dolphins.
    Bravo Meni, for your fine choices all the way through. Applause to all involved. I look forward to seeing what’s next.