“The Titan” is a movie that feels like a needless, fan fiction prologue to some lost, sci-fi film we’ll never get to see. Every piece of “Titan’s” faulty plot is supported by the hope that nobody will think about what happens in this movie too much. If they do, then audiences will realize those arguments were right, that Netflix films aren’t real movies but just leftover garbage that Hollywood was afraid would stink up theaters.
This movie is supposedly an original creation from director Lennart Huff and writer Max Hurwitz, although it feels like “The Titan” only came to be by directly plagiarizing other films in nearby orbit. “Titan’s” whole “the earth is dying, humans need a new planet to live on” shtick is “Interstellar” to a T. The training non-astronauts to be astronauts is wholly “Armageddon.” The blue, superhuman thing that they’re trying to force the non-astronauts to transform into looks exactly like the guys from “Prometheus” or Dr. Manhattan from “Watchmen.” And while no monstrous creatures burst out of human chests, anytime someone has a seizure or convulsion, its hard not to think you’re watching a straight-to-VHS “Alien” sequel.
But most of the “Alien” movies are good. They exist in a universe where characters like Ripley try to make good decisions, and those that don’t, like Paul Reiser, still have strong motivations for the choices they make. The same can’t be said for “The Titan,” although it starts off on a somewhat believable path. Lt. Rick Janssen (Sam Worthington), his wife Dr. Abi Janssen (Taylor Schilling) and their son move to a government-controlled area. Rick is to participate in a program that will give him the physical abilities to live on Saturn’s moon Titan, one of the only places humans could survive in the universe after earth gets all fucked up. Rick and Abi make friends with the other recruits, as Professor Martin Collingwood (Tom Wilkinson) watches over their developments.
After some days in training Rick and the other recruits start having bad physical reactions to the treatment. Abi wants to know what’s going on while the professor feeds her lies. Then Rick randomly develops the ability to swim faster than Michael Phelps, an amazingly bizarre sequence that makes us immediately question the necessity or purpose of everything else we have seen up to this point in “The Titan.” While not a total list, these questions, with spoilers, include:
1. Why do they bother letting the test subjects go home at night, if the training they’re receiving is so inherently expensive and valuable? Why don’t they just sleep at the facility?
2. Why even recruit individuals with families at all? Wouldn’t those who have no close attachments do better emotionally in the program?
3. Why does every recruit get their own McMansion, especially if they’re only living there a short time?
4. Where or what is Professor Martin Collingwood a professor of? It doesn’t seem like he teaches at a university but is just an outside research scientist.
5. Again, why did they let Rick go home when he became a blue guy? He’s literally the pinnacle of the professor’s research, it’s like letting a hamster with the cancer cure out of its cage for the night, hoping it comes back in the morning.
6. Why would the professor ask or even trust Abi to sedate Rick? Seems like with their tranquilizer weapons, the professor and his military goons could easily do that on their own. It’s like John Hammond randomly asking his granddaughter to tranquilize a T-Rex even though “Jurassic Park” has a trained dino staff to do that
7. Why does Abi still care for Rick after he kills people? She literally enables him to kill an innocent military guy and doesn’t feel the least bit bad about it.
8. How the fuck did they get Rick to Titan? He doesn’t speak English or any Earth language anymore, so how can they do astronaut training with him?
9. Also, what is he supposed to do when he gets up there? He’s by himself with no female companion! How is he supposed to reproduce? Isn’t that the point of the entire thing?!?!? What if he slips on a Saturn moon rock and dies, how would anyone on Earth know?
Sam Worthington is decent as Rick, and while Schilling’s character was poorly-conceived, the actress still shows off her growing talent and penchant for capturing emotions and moods more complex than the sarcasm of her infamous character Piper on “Orange is the New Black.” But their acting efforts don’t salvage the shipwreck of a story that is “The Titan.”