Move over, the much-maligned (for reasons I don’t understand) Cloverfield Paradox. There’s now a much better example for “bad sci-fi Netflix movie”: The Titan. It’s a movie whose premise is the only interesting thing about it, and it’s squandered in a dull film whose individual elements are all taken from other much more interesting projects. The Titan has nothing original of its own.
It takes place in the near future. Humans have more or less depleted Earth’s resources, and it’s only a matter of time before we all die because of it. We see almost no evidence of this; the movie tells it to us and we accept it, even though its time is split between a gorgeous house with all of the amenities one could want and a high-tech research lab. No resource shortages here. No decaying environment. No wars that “ravaged the planet.” Whatever. Earth’s dying. We need to find somewhere else to go. Okay. A professor (Tom Wilkinson) is leading a project to try to get people onto Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. It is the only choice, we’re once again told, even though people can’t survive there.
That’s why there’s a project. He’s selected a bunch of people who will be undergoing hundreds of injections and tests in order to produce something akin to a “forced evolution,” which will hopefully allow them to survive on Titan. How this allows for colonization is unclear—and given that most of them won’t survive the very costly transformation, and those that do might not even retain their humanity, it seems like something that wouldn’t work, especially since we have no resources left. Don’t think during The Titan; you might hurt yourself.
It soon wades into very typical “science goes wrong” territory. Some subjects don’t survive. The project turns them into something different from what was promised. The risks are higher. You know the drill. Our protagonists are Rick and Abigail (Sam Worthington and Taylor Schilling). The former takes part in the project, while the latter worries about it. Neither are required to do much acting or have much to their characters.
The Titan should become the new go-to example of a terrible direct-to-Netflix sci-fi movie.
The film doesn’t want to explore any of the ideas behind its premise. Not the intellectual or ethical decisions that go into it, nor the consequences afterward. It just wants to tell you a story about a guy going through this procedure and … that’s enough, it hopes. It’s not. We’ve seen this before, but better, smarter, and in more thrilling ways. This one is mostly just dull.
At least Sam Worthington doesn’t have to do much acting here. It’s a wonder he keeps getting cast in leading roles, and here might be at his dullest yet. There’s nothing to his character, granted, but he spends the entire movie stone-faced and the second half mute. Maybe that’s why he was cast; nobody could have made this character interesting. Taylor Schilling is supposed to be the “heart” of the film, but only occasionally gets something to do, and it’s as boring and cliche as the rest of the production. There is nothing here of interest.
The Titan should become the new go-to example of a terrible direct-to-Netflix sci-fi movie. Apart from some decent cinematography, it has nothing going for it. The actors are bland, the characters are weak, the plot is cliche, the effects aren’t anything special, it doesn’t want to explore any of its potentially interesting ideas or consequences, and it feels like it borrowed everything it has from a dozen other better “science gone wrong” movies.
Conclusion: The Titan is dull, derivative sci-fi.