“Battle for Terra 3D” is an imaginative children’s film about a race of aliens who make first contact with a new species — humans. Humans have abandoned Earth after destroying the ecosystem during interplanetary warfare. Now they have come to Terra to find a new home. Along the way, a human soldier makes friends with an intrepid young Terrian. Together, they try to avoid a war between the species.

There are many, many problems with “Battle for Terra 3D,” not the least of which is the bizarre character design that makes the aliens resemble smiling sperm. There is a significant over-reliance on deus ex machina for almost every plot point, and unforgivably silly things happen throughout. And yet, the film is undeniably fascinating.

It seems like the filmmakers took care to imagine a world where aliens could actually flourish. The world of Terra features gorgeous flying whales and alien pigeons floating through a jungle-like city of trees, all above frozen tundra.

Most children’s films are content to create a simple world of moral clarity with nefarious villains and idealized heroes. “Battle for Terra 3D” goes a great deal further. Neither the aliens nor the humans are clearly heroic.

Too often films will settle for establishing one side as good and the other side as evil. Here, the audience is forced to consider all sides. We are introduced to the aliens first and come to know them as good and peaceful, but at the same time, it is hard to root against the humans when the audience is likely to be made up of… um… people.

The film falls apart during the third act as it moves from character work to space battles, but even during these sequences there is ingenuity well beyond the scope of most family entertainment. Plus, the space ships are pretty cool and Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill even makes an appearance yelling, “It’s a trap!”

“Battle for Terra 3D” is not a great film by any means. In fact, it is too often nothing short of idiotic. But, it is a great film about which to start a conversation.
– Hunter M. Daniels