Through the endless minutes of exposition at the front-end of The Titan, we hear a lot of what we have heard before in dystopian science fiction. Population is rising, while resources are dwindling. Pressures for survival have lit up violent conflicts across the world. Scientists and military personnel are desperate for a solution. Terraforming Saturn’s moon, Titan. Biogenetic enhancements to survive such a move. Medical trials gone wrong. Yadda yadda.
Rick Janssen (Sam Worthington) is one of these test subjects. A military man who was once thought MIA while in the Syrian desert, it is this incident that convinces the government that he is fit enough to take part in the experiment.
The test subjects in this case become superhuman. They can breathe underwater for over 30 minutes. They can withstand extreme temperatures without feeling a thing. They become physical specimens.
Clearly, there are bound to be unforeseen consequences. We first see a physical representation of this in the science fiction shorthand way: with people’s veins visibly turning black. Even after it becomes entirely evident that this experiment is going to trend south, the film takes its time getting to that downturn.
The concept of Titan, as conventional as it is, is not unpromising. An interesting story that weaves the personal story of Rick and his wife Abi (Taylor Schilling) and the grand-scale implications of a world in need of saving could be produced from this premise.
But Lennart Ruff’s film is tedious and drab. Visually, the entire film is washed out to shades of gray and blue. Narratively, it paces like a snail without adequately developing its dramatic stakes.
Sure, one can sympathize with Rick because he has a wife and a son that care for him. One can root for Abi as she does everything she can to get to the bottom of the experiments. But it is easier to be flippant towards these two, as neither of them are given lived-in personas.
We know that they love each other, because they dance and swim in the pool together. We know of their professions and their intelligence, and thus we know they are capable protagonists. But we never understand them as anything more than that. They are basic representations of people, as opposed to characters who we care about because they have something to lose.
Titan is a bland film with a mishandled deliberate pace. While it certainly has concepts on its mind worth exploring, it only explores these concepts in a superficial manner. Instead, it focuses most of its attention on a visual transformation. It’s an adequate visual transformation, but it’s no stand-in for engaging storytelling.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)