Originally conceived as a video game, Chris Delaporte and Pascal Pinon's spacey science-fiction fable — the first feature-length CGI-animated film made in France — has the distinctive Heavy Metal magazine meets THE NEVERENDING STORY (1984) vibe of Euro-science-fiction comics, complete with ponderous philosophical noodling, weirdly whimsical aliens and seriously creepy creature sex. Bold, restlessly intelligent Keana (voice of Kirsten Dunst), whose boom-boom room figure could stop planets mid-orbit, lives on Axis, a coiled tree world in the clouds. Kaena yearns to know what lies beyond the borders of her primitive village, but her tribe's spiritual leader discourages idle curiosity when there are spiteful gods who need placating with laboriously harvested tubs of golden tree sap. Kaena flounces off in a huff (and little else) and eventually learns that Axis was created a mere 600 years earlier when an alien space vessel crashed onto the surface of the planet below. And the "gods" of Axis turn out to be a slimy pod of tentacled, Giger-esque monsters called Selenites, and answer to a monstrous queen driven by the single-minded lust to destroy Opaz (Richard Harris), the sole survivor of the crash. Opaz, in turn, has spent the last six centuries rebuilding his ship, helped by a crew of hyper-intelligent giant worms, including the fiercely loyal Assad (Michael McShane) and the high-strung Gommi (Greg Proops), and avoiding the Selenites. Opaz, whose ship is finally ready to fly again, befriends Kaena and learns that she knows the whereabouts of Vecanoi, a glowing computer that houses the accumulated knowledge of Opaz's people. Not wanting to leave without Vecanoi, he persuades her to help him recover it without mentioning that taking away the computer that created Axis might destroy it. It takes a particular, salaciously juvenile turn of mind to conceive the fate of the world as a struggle between a pneumatically endowed girl-child in a miniscule loincloth and an alien queen who refuses to "merge" (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) with the last male of her race, but fortunately this film's lavishly beautiful animation is as sophisticated as the story is solemnly dopey. The perpetually worried-looking worker worms are charmers — it's not every day you see a five-foot-long talking slug in a winged full-body suit, complete with mechanical hands and legs — and the honey-colored Selenites are endlessly entertaining, in an icky-sticky kind of way.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Originally conceived as a video game, Chris Delaporte and Pascal Pinon's spacey science-fiction fable — the first feature-length CGI-animated film made in France — has the distinctive Heavy Metal magazine meets THE NEVERENDING STORY (1984) vibe of Euro-sci… (more)