The Titan review: A frustrating sci-fi failure

Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein via
Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein via /

Despite an intriguing high-concept premise, The Titan ultimately succumbs to the cliches of its genre.

Let’s face it, science fiction just is not what it used to be. Films like Annihilation are far and few between, with most sci-fy films opting to be simplistic genre entertainment rather than intelligent statements on society. With the genre being one of my personal favorites, this has become distressing, but it still hasn’t stopped me from watching most of what has come out.

The latest attempt to revive the genre is The Titan, which is also the latest release from Netflix. Set in a world that is preparing for destruction, the film follows Rick Jansen, who volunteers for a military experience that attempts to mutate humans to live on another planet. The results of this experiment prove to be more challenging than expected.

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The Titan intrigues with its high-concept premise, but its yet another shallow sci-fy feature that lacks the brains or humanity to convey its premise.

Much of the first third of the film actually works. While its world-building is certainly nothing new, I appreciated the slow start the film has, as the writers focus on establishing the science of the experiment. Director Lennart Ruff struggles in some areas, but I give him credit for creating a  visual style that is appealing. Ruff also keeps the pace moving at a good clip, with there rarely being a lag in the story.

After its solid opening, The Titan quickly squanders its potential. Max Hurwitz script lacks originality or depth, with much of the running time following tired cliches that have been done to death in the genre. Hurwitz never engages in the interesting moral questions that are created from its premise,  ultimately wasting any interest the set-up could of had. What’s most disappointing is how shamelessly the film drifts to utter camp in its final third, needlessly morphing into an action hybrid in a lazy attempt to excite the audience.

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While the material certainly isn’t great, the actors don’t exactly shine here. Sam Worthington has made a career of playing the same stoic character, and while the film tries to give the character some heart, his performance is mostly just bland. He fails to truly convoy the emotional weight of sacrificing himself to save humanity, while also lacking the charisma to overcome the script. Taylor Schilling and Tom Wilkinson hold their own, but they are given virtually nothing to do in their generic supporting roles.

Similar to Cloverfield Paradox, The Titan is a good fit for Netflix, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s sporadically interesting enough to be watchable, but will likely be viewed more as background viewing due to its lack of effort and originality. Hopefully more filmmakers will look to great science fiction for inspiration, rather than something to simply ape in a tired fashion.

The Titan is now playing on Netflix.