Review of Netflix's The Titan (spoilers)

Be warned: Spoilers!

I wanted to like this film, but I couldn’t. We could always use another decent SF flick, even if it’s not A-list or perfect but this just wasn’t well done in my opinion.

Plot: A group of military/scientist types on a dying Earth want to modify humans so they can live unaided on Titan. We follow Our Hero through the process of becoming one such modified human.

Here are my issues with the movie:

How the hell do they pick these people? This is a risky, experimental technique and they are expecting at least some of the subjects to die. Yet everyone they pick seems to have a family of some sort. There’s no mention I can recall of selection criteria (so if there was, it wasn’t memorable). Near the end the guy running the secret experimental program says there are problems because their one surviving subject has too many attachments to Earth – well, yeah, he’s got a wife and kid. If you wanted people without attachments maybe you should have opted for single folks without families?

What is the motivation of the test subjects? Why would a guy who is happily married and has a kid get magicteched into an alien that can only live on Titan, then go there and never, ever see his family again? One of the women who is in the program mentions needing a permit to have a kid and not being able to get one – well, getting turned into an alien and going to Titan isn’t going to get her one, and certainly not one with her husband, who isn’t in the program. This doesn’t make sense as presented.

The Earth is dying? We are shown some brief glimpses of this – a newscast shows that LA has been declared “uninhabitable” - but you don’t FEEL it as an audience member. For most of the movie the test subjects and their families are living in spacious, nearly empty homes with plenty of food available and even the occasional party with generous amounts of alcohol. To sell this meme they really need to show it much more often. Is it that hard to film scenes of despair and destruction? Heck, you can probably find footage of such on YouTube. Instead, almost the entire story takes place inside this wonderful preserve, including a scene with Breathtaking Scenery™. It’s not convincing that The Earth Is Dying, which is bad because that’s presented as the prime reason for such a desperate gambit for survival of humanity.

Not enough weirdness early on – they’re essentially turning people into aliens. This isn’t at all apparent until very, very far into the movie. Most of the early part of the transformation seems to be taking handfuls of pills and getting shots. Yes, there are bits about these people suddenly being able to hold their breath for 30-40 minutes and some skin shedding, but really, you don’t see anything happening for the longest time. Then, suddenly, all the survivors need to be rushed into some sort of surgery during which they turn blue and weird-looking, but without obvious wounds or scars. It just doesn’t work for me.

Now, how would I fix this?

First– if the planet is dying SHOW THAT. Start with the Hero’s family living in unpleasant conditions (perhaps everyone in one room, violence in the streets, whatever) so the transition to the new housing really emphasizes that this is a step up, a reward for being in the program. More frequent newcasts showing food riots, disasters, social and environmental collapse. You could insert 30 second bits into the movie at frequent intervals – people watching while drinking their morning coffee, or mentioned at a party, or in the background but able to be picked out by the movie audience. Show the fence around this reserve they’re in once or twice, with desperate hordes trying to get in and being repelled/shot by guards. At the party have someone saying “yeah, we tried to get snow crabs but apparently they went extinct last month so we have shrimp instead” or something of the sort to show that even the privileged can’t always get what they want. Weave this into the overall fabric of the narrative.

Second – motivation. Why are any of these people involved with this program? Do the Dying Planet narrative correctly and immediately one factor becomes adequate food and water and some elbow room. The world is going to hell but this one corner is still comfortable. That could certainly motivate the “mooks”, the low-level guards and service personnel, especially if their families are also housed on the reserve. Ditto for the doctors and scientists – resources and safety for their families could be a huge motivator and explain why they’re involved with a project that definitely has some shady features.

Third – families. As I said, it makes more sense for low-level personnel to have their families there and the test subject to NOT have families. Instead, we see no families except those of the test subjects. If the test subjects do have families then make it clear they’re doing this to secure safety and resources for those families because otherwise the test subjects look more like selfish jerks than family folks.

Fourth – have these people start physically metamorphosing early on. With the very first treatments have them losing their hair, their skin peeling off, whatever else you can come up with.

There are a bunch of other things I have issue with, like bad science. It’s stated more than once that nitrogen can be used to generate oxygen. No, it can’t. There’s no mention of how these altered people are going to be able to eat on Titan. If they’re altered enough to live on Titan I seriously question how they can survive in an Earth environment. After the final flurry of surgery the test subjects can no longer speak – but no one hands them a notebook and a pencil?

This is just not a well done movie. It has bad science. The motivations of everyone are muddy. It’s just not satisfying.

Bad movie. Looked to be interesting subject, but it just didn’t deliver for so many of the reasons you laid out. Also, the characters were so passively letting all the crazy mad scientist shit take it didn’t seem real. What kind of doctor is Abi to be so naive about what they were doing to her husband? Their motives for volunteering for the program was to provide a future for their son. Come again? Were they planning on biologically modifying select members of the population to live on Titan? How was the dismal success rate (only one out of 20 survived and just barely) of the program cause for hope?

And what was the point of sending him to Titan all alone at the end? That must have cost a bundle for what purpose? It’s not like he’s going to repopulate humanity on Titan. Also means they can’t continue to study the long-term effects of the program. So pointless. And that’s pretty much how the whole movie felt. Pointless.

This movie had so much potential, but it never came close to being met. I struggled to finish it. My biggest question with the entire plot line was, why force their evolution to be able to survive on Titan? Why not simply force their evolution to be able to survive on whatever the dying Earth was becoming???

Having watched it over the weekend, and now having read **Broomstick’s **critique and suggestions, I can say that his [?] was vastly better written than the movie, contained fewer vapid plot ideas and kept me reasonably engaged from start to finish. Which is sad, when you think about what could have been a good, reliable sci-fi actioner.

There was a bit of low-grade ‘what makes humans human’ argle-bargle in there, but this could have been replaced with Bollywood dance numbers without compromising what was offered.

Couldn’t finish it.
We want to live on Titan because… reasons?

If you can completely change a humans physical needs, can’t you adapt to Earth’s new climate?

Yeah, that’s the batshit crazy here - wouldn’t it be easier to adapt to a changing Earth?