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The Planet

Directed by Directed by Mark Stirton

Written by Written by Mark Stirton

Starring Starring Tim Branston, Ashley Branston, Patrick Wight, Scott Ironside

Produced by Produced by Michael G. Clark

Rated R

70 mins

***

Do you have any idea how rare good science fiction is?

Conversely, do you have any idea how even more rare good direct to video science fiction is?

And by the time I bring in “imported” to “good direct to video science fiction”, well, I’ve just blown the scale of possibility wide open to the “you really should look into good psychological help” level.

The Planet will definitely qualify in that latter category, as amazing as it sounds, this is good imported direct to video science fiction.

It features a group of mercenaries on board a ship carrying cargo of a prisoner back to charted space when they’re attacked from out of nowhere by a group of space fighters. The ship acquits itself bravely, but a suicide attack on the main drive forces the massive vessel down. What they find when they hit dirtside is a monster they weren’t expecting, and that was just the prisoner in the cargo hold. What the planet is holding secret, meanwhile, is much, much worse on a downright galactic scale.

It’s impressive to find a purely CG space battle that’s believably staged—and that’s what you’ll get with the first few minutes. The rest of the movie, meanwhile, at least manages to hold its own thanks to some excellent performances on the rest of the cast’s shoulders.

Oh, sure, there are problems here, some fairly weak explanations and a somewhat secondary sense of plot development. But with some suspension of disbelief, you should actually come off all right here.

The ending may well be the strangest thing of all, as the massive poorly explained beastie emerges and is defeated by equally poorly explained means. But it is still a treat to watch, so I won’t hold that against it.

The special features include a making of featurette, cast and crew bios, audio options, Spanish subtitles and trailers for The Planet, Displaced, Magus, and Death on Demand.

All in all, The Planet is a pretty big surprise, for taking on an ambitious prospect and doing fairly well with it. You’ve got to respect a movie that tries as hard as this one did, and so respect is definitely what it’s getting.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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