Main cast: Sam Worthington (Lt Rick Janssen), Taylor Schilling (Dr Abigail Janssen), Noah Jupe (Lucas Janssen), Tom Wilkinson (Professor Martin Collingwood), Agyness Deyn (Dr Freya Upton), Nathalie Emmanuel (WD Tally Rutherford), Diego Boneta (Dr Iker Hernandez), Corey Johnson (Colonel Jim Petersen), Aaron Heffernan (Cpl Zane Gorski), Alex Lanipekun (Andrew Rutherford), Naomi Battrick (Rayenne Gorski), and Aleksandar Jovanovic (Sergeant Johan Werner)
Director: Lennart Ruff
The Titan is similar to films like Morgan in that it is one of those films that defy easy categorization into any genre. I’ve decided to err on the side of caution and place this one under horror, as it contains some gore and people turning into the result of some twisted mating experiment using the Engineers and flying squirrels. It doesn’t contain enough horror elements though, I feel, to satisfy fans of the genre. I suppose we can also call it a sci-fi thriller, but I think only space horror fans will appreciate the inadvertent Ridley Scott crossover. Everyone else may just end up being bored by this badly paced snoozer.
Basically, it’s 2048, and Earth is made near-inhospitable with all the wars, pollution, et cetera. See, this is what happens when we don’t listen to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. She knows things, people, she knows. Anyway, Professor Martin Collingwood has a plan, one that the bigwigs of the world agree with: they will colonize Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, in order to give humanity a fresh start. To kick start the colonization, he launches a program that brings in some of the top soldiers from various countries and apply a combination of genetic manipulation and harsh physical training, all to condition them into being the first pioneers in Titan.
One of these is Lt Rick Janssen. He’s American, so naturally he has that American gene that gives him plot armor even as the other soldiers succumb to the nefarious machinations of Collingwood. What, you think there will be a sane, kindly scientist in this kind of movies? Mind you, Rick’s not the star of this show, it’s actually his wife Abigail, who is conveniently enough a researcher and hence is in a position to make educated deductions and access lab facilities when it comes to Rick. As Rick begins to show what seems like abnormal side effects, she begins to probe a little deeper into Collingwood’s plans and discovers that, of course, not everything is what it seems. What will happen now?
Right off the bat, the biggest problem here is Sam Worthington. The movie seems to want Rick to be this tragic figure but in order for that to succeed, the actor playing Rick needs to resemble a human being with relatable emotions. Mr Worthington plays Rick like he’s completely stoned to the gills, barely able to muster any emotion. He is grossly out-acted even by the unknowns they hired to pad up the rest of the cast. I’d think he’d step up a bit all these years, maybe attend some acting classes, but I guess he is relying on the next 200 Avatar sequels to keep him employed. So, nobody cares about Rick, and they can’t even give naked Engineer-Rick-monster a bubble butt, no, he is instead as flat in the back as he is in the front. I guess life forms on Titan reproduce by parthenogenesis or something? Sounds like a dreadfully dull way to live, may as well live it up and take one’s chances on Earth.
Taylor Schilling fares better, but her character is only half of the equation. It is hard to care about Abigail’s plight when I can’t give a damn about Rick’s.
The Titan shouldn’t be like this, though. Its central theme is such that it could have brought up interesting issues about manipulating human evolution and the ethics behind it. Perhaps with a different lead playing Rick, I may care more about the talk-heavy first two-thirds of the movie. Yes, this is one of those movies when things only escalate in the late third, but unfortunately, the escalation ends up derailing the movie from a somewhat halfway-decent thriller thingy into a marathon of cringes and goofy CGIs, complete with a hilariously over the top denouement. Also, in the final scene humans seem OK living on Titan the way they are, thus rendering the whole point of the movie… well, pointless.
Anyway, this one is best skipped, unless one wants to view this as an unintentional origins story of those Engineers. Even then, have some diversions close at hand, as Mr Worthington will be doing his best to make sure that nobody gives a damn about his character.