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Battle for Terra 3D

This off-beat outer-space saga is kinda crazy-cool

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This animated 3-D space adventure comes with the goofy glasses but seriously, it should come with a bong. See, somewhere in outer space there is a planet inhabited by tadpole people, who swim through the air above a perpetual snow storm. They live in Myst-like tree-houses, and seem very mellow, into cool fabrics and wooden bowls. Then some advancing bright lights start sucking the tadpoles out of the air. These light turn out to contain what's left of the humans, looking for a new planet after trashing Earth (and Mars and Venus.) A bright teen-girl tadpole and a human pilot become friends and spend the rest of the film trying to get their respective incompatible races to work together. And while there is a "battle" in the last reel, filled with each side's flying armaments (humans fly X-shaped planes, while the tadpoles strap into bird frames), Aristomenis Tsirbas' visually striking film isn't your typical starfighter blast-o-rama. The narrative is straightforward, but there's something loopy and a little bit dream-like about the whole affair, which the 3-D animation only intensifies. (At times I felt we were traveling deep, deep within the sleeve artwork of a 1970s prog-rock concept album.) I also dug how all the weird stuff wasn't explained -- hey, there goes a whale -- it just was. Thus, not for the Transformer set, too complicated for little kids and potentially too simplistic for adults. I think an 11-year-old nerd girl who prefers reading or doodling to caring about the Jonas Brothers would be a great fit. Which is to say: I liked it, even with just the glasses on. Starts Fri., May 1.

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