Title: The Titan
Directed by: Lennart Ruff
Do modern trailers give away too much? The Titan, a direct-to-Netflix sci fi movie by some guy (seriously, this is the only recognizable thing on Lennart Ruff's IMDB page--though he seems to have been more active in German cinema), poses an interesting problem on this score.
Here is the trailer for The Titan: On an environmentally-devastated Earth, a soldier (either Sam Worthington or Channing Tatum) is subjected to genetic modifications intended to make him able to survive on Saturn's moon of Titan. His wife (Taylor Schilling) worries that the unscrupulous scientist leading the program (Tom Wilkinson) is going too far.
Here is the actual plot of The Titan: On an environmentally-devastated Earth, a soldier (either Sam Worthington or Taylor Kitsch ... possibly Jai Courtney?) is subjected to genetic modifications intended to make him able to survive on Saturn's moon of Titan. His wife (Taylor Schilling) worries that the unscrupulous scientist leading the program (Tom Wilkinson) is going too far.
It is, in other words, a movie impossible for the trailer (or this review) not to spoil, a movie that does literally nothing surprising, interesting or original with its premise. This is easily one of the dumbest "cerebral" movies I've watched in ages.
Not only is the plot completely linear and utterly obvious, is it also direly lacking in any kind of meaningful conflict. The Earth is dying. Requisite mad scientist dreams of genetically engineering people to live on Titan. So, right away, his up-front stated intention is to genetically modify people. His secret, dastardly plan is ... to genetically modify people. But, like, more.
The movie starts off with the expected beats--the set up, initial happy scenes as Sam (Rick) and the other 'pioneers' revel in their new abilities, followed by a descent into madness and despair as the real cost of the transformation becomes apparent and then ... um, short chase, easily captured, short chase, easily captured, but then not, for some reason. Our hero Rick (Sam) escapes the clutches of the evil scientists who wanted to send him to Titan, and instead aligns with the good scientists, who send him to Titan! Score one for the little guy. Roll credits.
Characterization is pretty bare-bones. Sam (Rick) loves his wife and kid. Wife loves him. Evil scientist is evil. Within such stick-figure roles it seems a shame to complain about acting, so all I can say is they're fine, Tom Wilkinson's BBC tones are a joy to listen to but also a reminder that "bad guy speaks with a British accent" is exactly how stupid this movie is.
There's potential here, I think, some different ways you could have gone with this idea. Body horror as Rick (Sam) slowly realizes the changes that are turning him into something alien, or is driven mad by the process. Or maybe a morality play, asking: Is it ethical to save the human race if it means turning us into something inhuman? Would you be willing to make that choice? But nope, instead they go the dumbest, most obvious evil-science take on the concept. The genetic treatment is painted as outright evil, because the big scientist lied, and lying is wrong. Thank you, elementary school ethics class.
Star lab rat Rick (Sam) -- or quite possibly Sam (Rick) -- undergoes agony as he is slowly transformed into a human-alien hybrid, but he does not lie, or do violence, or actually do anything other than suffer, which makes him good and the savior of the human race. Not the mad scientist who actually made his transformation possible, mind you, but the guinea pig, the guy who just sat there and was injected with shit--him, he's the hero.
So, consider yourself spoiled. And warned: this Titan is an intellectual midget.