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Battle for Terra

Man on the Run

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Aliens have a long, grisly history of invading our planet, bent on eradicating our species and denuding our land of its life-giving resources. They tried it in 1953ís War of the Worlds, and they tried again in this springís Monsters vs. Aliens. The twist in Aristomenis Tsirbasí Battle for Terra, an animated 3-D adventure not produced by either DreamWorks or Pixar, is brilliantly simple: this time, weíre the aliens.

Having exhausted earth of its own sustainable resources, the humans in Battle for Terra are on a take-no-prisoners mission to find a new home, led by a predictably hawkish military commander (voiced by Bryan Cox) and an amiable pilot (Luke Wilson) whose temperament is considerably less belligerent. When they discover Terra, a peaceful, oxygen-rich planet ripe for the taking, itís only a matter of time before initial tensions reach the boiling point.

Save for its clever tweak on a classic formula, thereís nothing particularly new here, though Tsirbas deserves credit for boldly casting man as the (mostly) unsympathetic aggressor in this interplanetary showdown. His feature-length debut struggles to find its footing in the early going, but once it does, Battle for Terra is a far more engrossing and thought-provoking venture than one might reasonably expect.