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The Titan: Predictbale Sci-fi thriller fails to impress
April 19, 2018
Debutant German director Lennart Ruff rounds up a seasoned cast, Sam Worthington (Avatar) Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black) and Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom) for his difficult to define this science fiction/ thriller journey The Titan.
Ruff, a well-established television commercials director began his transition from small screen to big screen journey through his short film Nocebo (2014). The film was well received, and Ruff was honoured the Gold award for Best Foreign Film at the Student Academy Awards 2014. This award signalled both his potential as a Hollywood director but also raised his credentials as a film maker along side a class of previous winners including John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Robert Zemeckis, Trey Parker and Spike Lee. A great start for a young director who has the potential to become a leading director in commercial Hollywood Cinema.
The Titan, set in 2048 planet earth; a bleak world in which the population has grown out of control, resources depleted and the environment in decay. The end of earth is near, 10 years from now half the world will be inhabitable and 5 years on half the world’s population will have starved to death. An elite selection of personnel from 16 NATO countries are hand picked based on their abilities to survive the toughest of conditions to take part in an innovative experiment. The forced genetic evolution of humanity ‘enhanced humans’ that will give them the capabilities to breath nitrogen air and swim in liquid methane waters of Titan the largest moon of Saturn, the only other place with an atmosphere.
The Titan’s story is devised by Arash Amel, screenwriter for Grace of Monaco (2014) who has had a stint of below average scrips, yet his work somehow features in Hollywood Black List. Ruff has the pleasure of working with Nocebo cinematographer Jan-Marcello Kahl who creates cold, dreary and unapologetic visuals for The Titan extremely well. Time is of the essence and pioneering is not without its risks, yet Ruff does not seem to show any sense of urgency not least with a tranquil and somewhat typical sci-fi opening.
The first act of the film seems long and somewhat drawn out, neither punchy nor sufficient action to keep audience engaged. The second act seem sluggish and yet again not much happens to push the audience engagement. The final act gathers some pace but it all seems calm despite the subject matter and results of the experiment and the wider consequences. The musical score does little to heighten the very little suspense throughout the film and otherwise acts merely to fulfil Hollywood’s norm.
The Titan has the potential to be a great Sci-fi film if only it could choose one subject area and really focus on that, unfortunately it sticks to a linear narrative that is full of gaps and is so predictable that you question why you are even watching it. The CGI is basic and does little towards the believability of Worthington’s character, in fact it seems like a reworking of David Ayer’s character from Bright (2017), Nick Jakoby. Taylor Schilling plays her role as mother and wife well and is perhaps the only redeeming thing about the whole film. There are interesting questions raised around morality, self-preservation and how far scientific intervention is justifiable. The Titan is evidently not the utopia planet imagined for humans after we have destroyed planet earth so perhaps we should relook at Mars or preserve what we already have.
The Titan is out now.
Words by Rehan Yasin @thatboyrehan.