Kaena: The Prophecy (PG-13)
fansite (French); IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Sony Pictures; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
So, this was, I guess, a French and Canadian coproduction, or something. So of course you could watch either the French version (for which I'd need subtitles, which is fine) or the English dub (which is what I watched, and liked because many of the characters were voiced by actors I knew from other stuff, mostly voice work, but the title character was voiced by Kirsten Dunst). Apparently it was originally meant to be a videogame, and then it just ended up becoming a movie instead. And you can definitely tell the animators are more used to making videogames than movies... there were parts where I thought the CGI was okay, but not very cinematic; but for the most part, I thought it was wicked cool. Freakin' awesome. I mean like totally amazing.
As for the plot... it was mostly kinda hard to follow, and reminiscent of any number of other things I've seen before. It starts with a massive spaceship exploding above a planet, and after that a scene on the planet that I didn't understand at all, when it happened. Then the story flashes forward to 600 years later. There's a village of humanoid people, who are led by a grand priest. They all have to collect sap from the complex system of trees or whatever, which their world is made of. And they offer the sap as a sacrifice to their gods, who I guess only the priest has ever seen. But the trouble is, the sap is running out, and the gods want more than the people can deliver. Meanwhile, there's a young woman named Kaena who likes exploring. She has an adventurous spirit and doesn't seem to believe in the gods. So she doesn't have a lot of friends, aside from the children who enjoy her stories and drawings, and also a crazy old man named Ilpo (who's reminiscent of any number of crazy old men from other movies or whatever, or even not necessarily old, but just crazy... he reminded me a little of a much younger character from my own book). Also... one of the children in the village is Essy, a boy whose older brother Zehos is a childhood friend of Kaena's, and now... there's a possible romantic vibe between them, but nothing along those lines ever happens, so I dunno.
Anyway, Kaena has dreams of another world, and these dreams are apparently prophetic, though there isn't anything in the movie that is really as cohesive as an actual prophecy. But um... anyway, I don't want to give too much away, but one day she kinda has no choice but to run away from the village. And she ends up getting hurt, and then she's rescued by... well, there are these creatures called worms, though that's not quite what they're like. Though they do need these mechanical suits to help them get around. And stuff. Anyway, there's a plot point about them that doesn't really bear thinking about, so I won't mention it. (It's played off as funny in the movie, but I actually find it deeply horrifying, so yeah... not thinking about it.) Anyway, they work for an old alien guy named Opaz, who is the last survivor of the ship that exploded 600 years ago, and he and the worms have spent this time building a new ship, which is almost ready to leave the planet where he's been stranded all this time. But he learns when Kaena speaks of her dreams, that some piece of technology which he calls the Vecanoi may have also survived the crash, and he's desperate to find it before leaving. Though the worms wish he would just forget about it. (Btw, there were always lots of worms flitting about- their suits had both mechanical legs and insect-like wings- but the two main ones were Gommy and Assad. I don't know what to say about the latter, but Gommy's personality kinda reminded me of Brainy Smurf.)
Um... and meanwhile, the so-called "gods" want to destroy this device, they've been trying for centuries, ever since it crashed there. The queen of these gods is obsessed with its destruction, but there's another one of the gods, Voxem, who is not happy about the queen's obsession. What he wants instead is... eh, I'm not going to try to explain it. But there will eventually be conflict between these two. Which is a good thing for the story's heroes, because otherwise they wouldn't have had a chance of surviving. Anyway, it takes awhile, but eventually the movie explains a number of things about... the aliens (called Vecarians), and the "gods" (called Selenites, which I never heard in the movie but it was mentioned in the "making of" doc on the DVD, and on various websites), and about the humans. And about the world they're all living on, called Axis. But it doesn't really explain everything very well... it's still kinda confusing. And I feel like the Selenites, who are supposedly the villains in the movie, have every right to be... oppressive. Ultimately, they are the injured party. (They call the Vecarians "invaders," and even if that wasn't the intent- I have no idea what the Vecarians' intent was- it's apt. They also use the humans as slaves, which I find objectionable, obviously, but... eh, the humans are kind of invaders, too, or more like... no, I don't want to give that away. Nor would I even know how to describe their role, even if I did spoil their origins for you.)
Well, so that's about all I want to say. Won't tell you how it all ends, except that it's basically positive... and just as confusing as everything else in the movie. I'm not saying it was a bad story... but it could've been told better. Nevertheless, I essentially enjoyed the movie, mostly because the visuals were awesome, and also because Kaena was freakin' hot. And her outfits were all ridiculously skimpy. Um, also I should mention that the DVD has an interview with Kaena herself (in French, with subtitles), which I thought was really pretty neat. An offscreen interviewer was asking her questions about playing Kaena, as if the animated character was the actual actress. And I almost found it believable, because of the way the animation differed for the interview from the movie (just more the way a real actress would move, and apparently sitting in a studio rather than an alien world), and the way the French voice actress spoke was also, obviously, the way an actress would speak, rather than the way a character like Kaena would speak. It was almost worth watching the movie just for the sake of watching the interview afterward. (Also it was fun to hear the French voice after watching the movie in English, as well as to hear the word "allons-y" spoken in something closer to real life than Doctor Who.)