A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Titan is a sci-fi thriller set 30 years in the future and premised on the idea that we've rendered Earth uninhabitable and need to plan for living elsewhere. The movie is bloody and violent. Soldiers shoot at alien beings and are killed; a woman is thrown through a window and her bloody body is shown. A man orders soldiers to shoot two unarmed women and a child. Volunteers go through painful and scary medical treatments and procedures. Friends turn on friends, and nefarious scientists all figure in the scenario. Adults drink alcohol and smoke marijuana, and language includes the word "f--k."
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What's the story?
THE TITAN poses a problem: Human-made ills, including nuclear fallout, have polluted the planet to near uninhabitability. The solution? Change humans genetically so that they can inhabit a frigid moon of Saturn, the atmosphere of which is too nitrogenous for ordinary humans to breathe. Rick (Sam Worthington) is among numerous volunteers for a military/NATO/NASA medical program that trains people to survive on the cold, dark, oxygen-light moon. What Rick doesn't know is that, under the direction of mad scientist Dr. Collins (Tom Wilkinson), he's also being genetically and surgically modified to grow gills, wings, catlike eyesight, and superhero strength. The families of the specimens have been welcomed to live on the elaborate military campus, and some grow distraught as their loved ones change -- shed skin, hair, and good humor. One transitioner tosses his wife out a picture window. Soldiers are killed by means available only to alien humans, events that trigger all-out military responses, complete with hovering helicopters. Rick's wife, Abigail (Taylor Schilling), is a physician and understands more than most the genetics of the species-swapping plan. Once Rick completes the program, he has a violent episode, is captured, and caged. Abigail is asked to administer a memory-erasing agent so Rick will let go of attachments to her and her son and be willing to hop into the rocket to Titan. She refuses but ultimately whispers something into what was once Rick's ear, leading to the movie's end, in which he soars over Titan's dark mountains, above a city someone has apparently built below.
Is it any good?
This movie about a military family's role in a genetic experiment mostly falls flat. Rick is the supposed subject of The Titan, but his story is seen mostly through the skeptical view of his doctor wife, Abigail, and that plants skepticism in the viewer -- not only about his plight, but also about the movie itself. The first 45 minutes pose an interesting, reality-based premise that invites our curiosity, but when Rick transforms into an earless, mute, human-made alien with gills and bat genes (who looks a lot like the character Worthington played in Avatar), all bets are off. Now the movie is just a less emotionally arresting version of The Fly, in which a scientist turns himself into a giant house fly to the dismay of his lover. Thus The Titan careens off the rails, leaving a slack-jawed audience wondering: What just happened?
Politically -- and this movie IS political -- this movie is at odds with itself. The government is enlightened enough to recognize that nuclear fallout, climate change, and other human-made ills are making Earth uninhabitable. On the other hand, somehow the government is also corrupt and backstabbing. The movie's biggest cop-out occurs when Abigail seems to whisper a speech into what's left of her alien husband's offscreen ear. Evidently her argument is sharply persuasive enough to make the previously resistant being leave his beloved wife and son behind, get himself on a rocket, and populate a distant, nitrogen-heavy moon. Wonder what she said? It's a good bet that the writers would love to know, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what we can do to keep our planet safe. Do you think we need to find alternative fuels to those that produce air pollution and cause climate change? What else can be done?
What are some small things kids can do to preserve the environment? Do you recycle? Do you volunteer locally in cleanup projects?
What does The Titan want us to believe about the future of our planet?
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