Earth being screwed is hardly a fresh notion. We hear this sentiment on the news daily (albeit not in those very words) and in our heads every time we read what some idiot has done/posted on social media to attain viral fame. However, the set up for this new Netflix original film (which received a small cinema release here in the UK) suggests that we have run the world dry of resources and need to make home elsewhere…again, not an entirely fresh idea but one with a lot of potential all the same for filmmakers wanting to make a statement. Sadly The Titan is likely to do the opposite and fade from memory very soon after viewing it.
Set a few decades ahead of where we are now, the film’s DNA strands are filled in with influences as wide as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Vincenzo Natali’s Splice, James Cameron’s Avatar, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and especially David Cronenberg’s The Fly. The story is another case of scientists messing around with things they really shouldn’t be messing about with and bugger the consequences but even on those grounds The Titan fails to lift off. The body horror is tame, the violence at times attention grabbing but mostly subdued and the ideas of sacrifice, duty and the worth of your cherished memories are only thinly presented in a story that has stretches of predictability.
You know straight off things will go awry and that Tom Wilkinson’s atypical moral sidestepping scientist is untrustworthy and it leaves the film following a particular path, with the promise there may be something more, only when the finale does arrive, it feels disappointingly anti-climatic and leaves one wondering what the film actually wanted to achieve.
The acting is certainly not dreadful but – like the film as a whole – fails to leave an imprint or form a connection, even as lives are lost and the forces of an uncaring science take liberties. Sam Worthington’s lead character Rick is undeniably drab and some of the supporting faces don’t get much to work with, although the film is elevated some by its co-lead. Taylor Schilling is very believable and emotional as Abi (Rick’s wife) and she sells us the drama far better than the script manages to. She really is one of The Titan’s strongest attributes.
The other is Jan-Marcello Kahl, whose cinematography is at times rather ethereal and at others very intimate, Kahl gives the film a look that is striking and even when the story struggles, the visuals and settings feel in some way effective and certainly more memorable than the score.
The Titan is in no way unwatchable and should you be in the mood for a slice of science gone violently wrong Sci-Fi, this is certainly more considered than other offerings from the constantly overflowing straight to disc market but overall, there is little in this Netflix Original Film to thrill, chill or leave a lingering feeling…or even a strong momentary one for that matter.