MOVIE - “Battlespace”
DIRECTOR – Neil Johnson
WRITER – Neil Johnson
SIX DEGREES OF CAST & CREW
‑Iva Franks Singer, who plays The Watcher, has a long career of interesting bit parts in movies. She appears in Heat, Bordello of Blood, and Jerry Maguire; unfortunately, all of those roles are cameos or walk-ons, as a waitress, a werewolf, and an airplane passenger. She did do a couple of episodes of the late, lamented Space: Above and Beyond, as well as a couple episodes ofLas Vegas. She will be best known to stoners and absurdists as Lynn Cinco from Tim And Eric Awesome Show Great Job.
‑Director/writer Neil Johnson has directed an impressive 15 films. Three of them are called Hell on Earth (III, IV, and V) and three more of them are about the long-running epic metal band Manowar. From what I can tell, no one in Manowar is in this movie, but I could be wrong!
‑One of the interesting things about this movie is who it cribs from. The weapons are the pulse rifles from Aliens; the noise the weapons make is one of the most famous sounds in the world—the blaster sounds from Star Wars. Unfortunately, they don’t use a Wilhelm Scream.
Col. Mara Shrykke (Eve Connelly) is one of the few remainders of humanity after a universe‑destroying civil war between two colonies: the militaristic Konstrukts, who fired the superweapon that destroyed the earth and several other colonies, and the also militaristic folks of some planet whose name I can’t remember. As the battle rages, planets fall by the wayside, destroyed in the conflict, until only these two planets remain, locked in an intergalactic war using advanced genetic and biomechanical technology gifted to humanity by The Watchers, a benevolent alien race whose gifts allowed humans to spread throughout the galaxy.
Of course, after giving these gifts The Watchers disappear again, thereby allowing humanity to continue its self‑destructive ways, but now we all live to be thousands of years old, have awesome mutant powers, and have cybernetic implants and the like that allow us to be super-awesome at killing one another. Bonus!
After bailing out of her capital ship, Shrykke and Roj Ussal (Blake Edgerton) find themselves on an inhospitable planet marred by warfare and a wildly-varying climate. (with 3 suns and 5 moons, you know that climate be crazy!) Ussal is a traitorous double agent serving the Konstrukts, and Shrykke has to kill him and stop the Konstrukts before their super-weapon destroys the homeworld. She’s got 42 hours to find out where she’s going, but Ussal isn’t going to make that easy on her.
You know, if you can say anything about this movie, it’s that it makes the most of what it has. The stuff that is shot on location is shot on cool locations, like what looks to be a desert and what appears to be a rock quarry. The interiors have a great Alien-style industrial gothic feel to them, as if they were shot in actual military vehicles (like a decommissioned battleship or sub or something to that effect). The digital effects are also very impressive. The space scenes, while a bit cartoonish due to the fact they’re all digital, are actually pretty good. I’m not crazy about the matted in actual explosions with the digital creations, but the ships themselves look cool, and when they’re inserted into the environment, they actually blend in well. They don’t look abjectly phony, which is tough to pull off even with a special effects budget, much less in a movie that costs less than $2 million bucks.
From a technical standpoint, I have to praise director Neil Johnson and cinematographer Dan MacArthur. This is a very good looking film considering the limitations of a straight-to-video film. There are some very cool shots here, like a few pull-backs and pull-outs to digital space, and some very cool dissolves and splits. The camera moves in cool way, and shots are composed in ways to emphasize the strengths and detract from the weaknesses.
Sure, the script leaves some things to be desired, but I like the use of voiceovers to tell the story in lieu of actual discussion of the events. In that way, it’s a bit like an older sci-fi film. The acting isn’t bad either, though there’s not a ton required of either of the leads for most of the film. I’m not crazy about the many British accents in the film, but I guess that’s another nod to Star Wars.
Really, this movie isn’t anything original, but it is a lot of fun. It’s what I call a movie loaf: bits of other movies kind of mashed together to make a delicious celluloid snack. A little Star Wars, a smidge Enemy Mine, a taste of Terminator, a little more Star Wars, some Battlestar Galactica, some Starship Troopers, and a dash of Star Trek Deep Space Nine and you’ve got yourself quite a tasty little treat.
RATING – 4 voice overs out of 5
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