June 30, 2006
"The Planet" from Stirton Productions (www.stirtonproductions.com)
A climatic space battle opens the film, setting the scene for the story. Attack ships swarm over a large battered cargo ship. A crew of mercenaries on board with a very special cargo. Forced to abandon their crippled ship the survivors land on "The Planet". Soon they realise that they are not alone, as they battle to survive they begin to fall prey to a malevolent entity. Forming a rescue plan the survivors race to carry it out while they still can. They make some shocking discoveries that could mean the universe as they know it could be changed forever.
The opening space battle is an assault on the senses, ships fly from all directions, lasers spew from guns and explosions rock the screen. The crew have to eject in escape pods to the surface of "The Planet", the escape sequence is well done, the ships are detailed, the designs are unique and the destruction of the main ship is a very satisfying climax to the action.
Once on "The Planet" the surviving crew set up a base camp. Captain Morgan (Mike Mitchell) has a great screen presence and easily fits the role of the Captain with his rugged good looks. The remaining principal crew McNeal (Patrick Wight), Vince (Scott Ironside), Roberts/ The Kid (Ashley Branston) and Leyton (Shawn Paul Hastings) put in some fine performances with some nice humorous interchanges between the crew, which are well supported by Taylor (Michael Clark), Marsh (Steve Tomas), Mitch (Tim Branston), Daak (Mark Wyness), The Prisoner (Colin Morrison) and Williams (Graham Robertson)
The clever use of the filming locations make "The Planet" look desolate and alien. Vast rolling sand dunes and clever grading add to the sense of ''otherworldliness'.
Soon the crew encounter an alien creature and a frenetic gun battle ensues. The action scenes are very well realised and the effects are very well integrated into the action. The guns look and sound very solid, with very convincing physical props and composited effects achieving this. The crew work well as a team in these situations. The creatures seem impervious to the impressive firepower of the crew, and move with animalistic speed, never really revealing themselves at this point. The crew manage to destroy the creature and the truth about their special cargo is revealed by the Captain.
Soon the crew discover some shocking secrets which have a deadly outcome. The story starts to drive along at an increased pace with some genuine shock twists and turns. The special cargo is revealed as a prisoner, who has his own deadly agenda. As the creatures continue to attack the crew manage to formulate a plan for signalling for help, but can they do it in time? As the creatures multiply and their power increases, "The Planet" begins to become more hostile, freezing temperatures, wind storms and lightning storms batter the crew. As their numbers decrease the crew find the source of the disturbances and the 'big boss' is revealed. As in all good sci-fi/monster movies there is a very impressive monster at the end. The scale of the monster is very impressive, as is it's destructive capability. I won't give away the ending but there are still a few surprises before the end credits.
What was refreshing about this film is that it has 'working class' people at it's core, no clean cut heroes, no indestructible action heroes, just plain talking military mercenaries. And be warned, there is a lot of 'plain taking' in this film, all with a Scottish accent to boot. So if you don't mind some strong language then you will really enjoy this Scottish roller coaster of a film.
What impressed me the most was the presentation of the film, the effects and space battles look studio quality, the locations are superb and the acting is strong. There is even an hour long 'Making of The Planet' on the DVD which gives a great insight into the film making process and has some very funny moments. This is virtually unheard of for a Small studio to go into this amount of presentation for a film. The DVD is very well done, the menus are very professional and the whole package has been very well thought out.
It's hard to believe that this film was done completely in house on a budget of £8000 (yes, EIGHT THOUSAND POUNDS). Unbelievable. This deserves to become a cult classic, showing what can be done for a tiny fraction of a Studios 'normal' budget.