Monday, November 3, 2008

Battle Planet

The Movie: Battle Planet

Year: 2008

Format Viewed: Satellite Broadcast

Official Site URL:

Premise: Soldier crashes on a desolate planet and becomes "locked" in a experimental survival suit with it's talkative A.I. as his only companion. Or is it?

Honest, that's the premise. It may not sound like much but it has the advantage of being simple, straightforward, and befitting the genre. I can earnestly say that this was a movie actually worthy of being on a network called the Sci-Fi Channel. And the look. .

Very nice. Sadly that level of set and CGI integration wasn't maintained throughout as the action, in typical low budget fashion, quickly shifts to a "planet" that conveniently looks like remote Californian countryside seen through post production generated filter effects similar to those used in Space: Above and Beyond. Also betraying the production's borderline shoestring budget were the costumes. While okay they looked like standard issue off-the-rack generic "Space Marine" . .

Of interest were the uniform I.D. badges. They were reminiscent of the I.D. badges worn by officers in the short lived Space Rangers TV series. .

The Reality: It's a guy in a high end Halloween "combat space suit" talking to himself. And, yes, that's just as mind-numbingly tedious to watch as it sounds.

The Story: Soldier is sent on top secret mission. Soldier crashes on desolate planet that turns out to be not so desolate. Soldier encounters hostile terrain, hostile critters, hostile aboriginals, and a few other hostile plot twists. Soldier struggles for survival until audience either loses interest, falls asleep, or changes the channel.

Assessment/ Verdict: This was the Sci-Fi channel's premiere movie for Sunday, November 2, yet they aired no promos during the week prior that I ever saw. So imagine my surprise when I tuned in to discover that their Sci-Fi original movie for this week, Battle Planet, was a Outer Limits style sci-fi story! Granted it was a bit sluggish and stretched a premise better suited to an hour out to feature length, but it was actually 100% science fiction. Alas the title is rather weak and doesn't really reflect the story. The silver lining? The delectable Brea Grant from Heroes has a cameo role. .

The make-up is also rather good. .

Actually, for a Sci-Fi original movie, the quality of the cosmetic appliances and make-up were astounding. .

And, not to be flippant, but there's not a Baldwin brother in sight. That alone marks this as something other than the usual bargain basement horror-fantasy CGI crapfests sciffy usually airs. Another point in Battle Planet's favor are the production values seen early on. They were reminiscent of Babylon 5 (original movie pilot) era CGI and sets. .

Overall I enjoyed the retro aesthetics. Alas the dialogue was so-so and the pacing could have been better. Nor did it help that the commercials seemed to drag on for ever. Despite these minor annoyances Battle Planet had the feel of a well thought out Outer Limits episode turned into a feature length film. If the back story were developed further this easily could have been a pilot movie for a TV series. The more that characters talked the more it became evident there was a very well developed background story. Alas the audience never really gets clued in. There's talk of an "Alliance" and some sort of conflict, which is quickly forgotten as we spend most of the movie watching this guy wig out in a survival suit. Not exactly gripping cinema.

I'd thus rank Battle Planet just below Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. It would be interesting to see the back story retooled, expanded, and turned into a regular series. Battle Planet is okay to watch if you're bored and nothing else is on alas the premise probably wont maintain any but the most hardcore sci-fi audience's interest for the full run time.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

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