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Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.

KAENA: The Prophecy 2003
Destination Films / Studio Canal / Xilam
Rated: USA: PG

From beginning to end this is a computer animated movie so...

We start with two planets that are far too close to each other to be healthy or stable. Yet they exist and they do so in a gaseous cloud that encompasses both planets as well as the solar system that surrounds them. Beyond these two worlds is a scattering of debris. The debris flies past us in greater number but at last we see beyond it to a huge spaceship. Our Point of view takes us straight into the spaceship where pieces are coming apart and explosions rock the structure. The people within run screaming this way and that as, room after room erupting, pieces of bulkhead flying across the distance battering everything and everyone in their wake. This spaceship is in its death throes. Something went horribly wrong though we don't know what.

Soon we are out of the spaceship and the madness. We see the spaceship as we fly away from it and notice that, of its three engines, one is empty and damaged. The other two are working but failing. Then the whole thing blasts apart in a white glare. Up to this point I don't know what the hell is going on but its a pretty cool opening.

Next we see water - or what appears to be water. An alien bipedal life form swims by and is attacked. It fights off the attacker and makes it's way to a blue glowing orb, which suddenly covers itself in a latticework of growing structure.

The alien creature gazes up at it beseechingly, and the creature that attacked it before, returns to end the little alien's life.

Next we see a bunch of humanoids hurrying about trying to get a full harvest of sap. They live in some type of tree structure and they are eager, perhaps even fearful, of not having enough sap for the offering. All of them feel this way except a young girl. Her name is Kaena (In the English version, the voice of Kirsten Dunst: INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, THE CROW: Salvation, SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN 2). She has a receding hairline and two large spots on her head. Why? Unknown and it will remain unknown.

Kaena spends her time running around and doing nothing while everyone else works. Unfortunately, her people work to provide sap for the "Gods". The gods are nothing more than other life forms with a slightly more advanced technology and a 19th century French aristocrat's way of viewing the rabble. This movie was made in France so I presume they know of what they speak.


BIG MAMA GOD AIN'T HAPPY. AND WHEN MAMA GOD AIN'T HAPPY, AIN'T NOBODY HAPPY!

Just as Kaena's people have their problems, so their slave masters, the Gods have theirs. The queen of the gods is an insensitive lout demanding more sap by her spoiled divine right and caring nothing for her subjects or their problems. Her reasons are unknown and they'll remain unknown. Her subjects are also voiceless save for her Master At Arms who wants to mate with her (which, in her species, would also kill her) or else their species will die out. He is the only voice of the people. The rest - apparently females every one - are silent. The Queen also fears a blue orb that she has never been able to destroy. It sits in one of her rooms and doesn't really do anything except glow. But the queen has been trying for hundreds of years to destroy it and attaches various spurious crimes to its existence.

Okay, long story short: Except for the animation of the humanoids, the computer graphics are pretty cool to look at, even if the entire world is as brown as an old PC game of Quake.

The story throws out one inventive idea after the next and nothing sticks because they do nothing about it. It's 90% eye candy and despite the coolness of the computer animation, we've seen cool animation in other movies that also had a story!

We are never given more than a sketch of Kaena's people - they are frightened primitive religious types.

We are never given more than a rough of Kaena's enemies, the gods - they are frightened imperialistic types.

We are never given more than a draft of the secret technology that exists within this tree world called Axis - they are frightened remnants of all that remains of the spaceship crash from 600 years before.

In short, this is a film about a young girl who heroically usurps the uncaring, tyrannical beings that think nothing of her people or their lives. Yet the movie's story and direction also treats Kaena's people as nothing. So this was made by the people who portray themselves as bad guys in the film. Hm. And because they really don't care, it really doesn't work.

The ruler of the secret technology gives great exposition! Opaz (In the English version, the voice of Richard Harris: THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE, JUGGERNAUT, THE CASSANDRA CROSSING, ORCA, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS) is the 600 year old sole survivor of the spaceship crash.

So what? Where is all of this going? The sole survivor of the spaceship crash wants to retrieve Vekanoi, the library of all his people's knowledge. So there will be an adventure to get that blue orb - in the last 20 minutes of the movie.

So great visuals, the plot is anemic, the characterization is 2D in a 3D world, and the action is sporadic, chaotic, and without context.

This movie stinks so bad - but it is cool to look at.

There is also a creature called Gomy: in the English version, the voice of Greg Proops (THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS) which is the Jar Jar Binks of this flick. Greg's witty delivery of exposition - and there is lots of it - is prime Proop. But it bulldozes itself right out of the film, shattering a story structure too weak and sickly to support it, turning Proop's material into sour ham. Ugh!

I don't want to talk about this thing anymore. Simple and insipid, KAENA: The Prophecy was originally meant to be a computer game and they should have left it at that. Or at least have given the animators a better story to match their excellent work.

Blame this movie on the writers,
Patrick Daher & Chris Delaporte - story
Chris Delaporte, Tarik Hamdine & Kenneth Oppel - screenplay

And the directors
Chris Delaporte & Pascal Pinon

But don't blame Richard Harris. This was his last movie and he deserved better.

Two Shriek Girls.


This review copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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