Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Friday, May 16, 2014

Battle for Terra vs "Scorched Earth" and Eureka Seven (Spoilers)

Oh Battle for Terra, great idea horrible horrible execution.

If I had to say why Battle for Terra fails it's the characters even the sympathetic ones come off as a  bit obnoxious and stupid.  Not flawed. Not nuanced. But stupid. This is first contact. First contact where I might add it is flat out stated the survival of mankind as a species is on the line.

This is the reason why you need some sort of protocols. Who do you send? How do they act? How do they communicate? How do they not risk starting an intergalactic war that would further limit our numbers past the point of being ecologically feasible?!

In short how do you not piss off the locals?

Part of me wants to cut this thing some slack because its so short at less than 90 minutes.  On the other hand I have seen this story done better so many times.  Nobody is given enough time for me to actually appreciate them, to give a damn about their arc. Everybody just seems to be there to play thier role in the story whichis a nerfed version of Ferngully.

For context I've seen the story done in a 40 minute episode of Stargate with more emotional impact.

Yeah Scorched Earth.

Okay quick recap. Think of Stagate SG-1 as the Millennials' Star Trek except instead of a ship our guys travel through the event horizon of a black hole housed in a ..."Stargate".  We didn't build the gate system but we can explore it going where no man has gone before.

In the episode our guys are on a humanitarian mission to help a group of humanoid aliens find a new world suitable for their unique biological needs. They're just getting settled when ... terraforming you get it. Our guys are in the position of figuring out gets to use the planet. Who gets to live on it and who is doomed to extinction.  Rock meet hard place. I love Stargate so I don't want to spoil it. So moving on.

You know for about a week ago saw Eureka Seven Astral Ocean. As a sequel to Eureka Seven it kind of fails. I finished of the original right before watching it and damn is it optimistic. This is a show where the love struck heroes literally carve their names into the moon. DA MOON! That's not to say the show is soft. There is war, genocide, military coups, propaganda wars, aaaand more war,  all that... "good stuff" but it also just wears its love beats all message on its sleeve. Its sequel pretty much undoes the enthusiastically happy ending of the show in favor of a bleaker tone that almost feels a betrayal to the original's sincere unabashed optimism in the face of hell.

All of this is a little trippy so sit down while Granpy Greg tells you a story.

In the before time (now really, the story takes place 10,000 years in the future) an alien life form crashed into the ocean. This life form has a biological imperative to "communicate" with all life which it does by biologically fusing to it. Growing as giant mushroom heads all along the surface. That freaks humanity right the hell out.

First there is war and then there is exodus when the war was lost.

The show makes clear that the, "scub corral" (guess what they assimilated the ocean) aren't exactly evil. It's just how they work. You wouldn't get mad just because my skin is mocha would you? WOULD YOU!? Point of fact they never understood why we would be so unwilling to assimilate since again that assimilation is the only way they know how to communicate. Hive mind and all just doesn't beget words.

After we leave it occurs to to them just how badly first contact went and they decide to mulligan. After a few thousand years we return home evidently forgetting most of the back story. The scub try to "birth" beings that can not only communicate with humanity but understand it. The scub are alien alien.  People, human thought, art, and morality is beyond them though they are sentient. Thus they create humanoid coralians creatures born of the scub who can interact and communicate with humanity.

Since scub are so alien these humanoid coraliens are basically born as tabula rasas.  Eureka Seven is the story of one of those tabula rasas on her journey to humanity and looooooove.  (Seriously this is the type of show it is. Deal with it. DA MOON!)

Of course the story is very slow to explain all of that as it really is the story her romance with Renton Thurston.

Oh and there's sky surfing.

Since the only guys who know all of this are the bad guys and the corraliens the story mostly reveals this through flashbacks, ecological phenomenon, the emotional baggage of our literally mutinous main cast (What if John Kerry said, "screw this" and took a PBR boat and his crew to chill for a few years surfing in the South Pacific before coming back and finding a way to peacefully unify Vietnam before the Cambodian genocide. That is Holland, the Gekko, and the Gekkostate.) and trippy trippy metaphorical mind melds, (the acperience episodes are not for the epileptic, alien alien, though the third and fourth ones have "spirit guides" to help make sense out of everything.)

Right right. What was point again. Yeah the story of two intelligent species that are literally and biologically unable to coexist in the same type of environment can make a great story. I've seen and read a few of them. But Battle for Terra just doesn't have any meat on its bones. Nobody has any character context for their actions other than what they need to do it in order for the story to make sense which the movie fails at anyway.

In Eureka Seven you spend the first third of it with Eureka before you find out what her deal is. In Stargate the story really does try to explain what a new home means for the Enkarans who have searched for a safe place to live for multiple generations.

I just didn't feel it here.

Both of those other stories feel like they have something to say, that the writers gave the material a real working through in a way where the story can make a powerful emotional statement. This feels like somebody said, "Hey I liked Ferngully as a kid, but the singing bat was sort of stupid. Let's make Ferngully but without the singing bat"

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