Ferocious Planet (2011)

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A film about inter-dimensional travel with John Rhys-Davies in it? Yes! As a long-term fan of TV show “Sliders”, I always have a little smile when I see one of the cast members in something else, on the off chance they slip a little reference in. Even though I was disappointed in JRD’s fairly speedy demise, we did get a little “this feels like…sliding” mention from one of the other cast members, which is good enough for me.

 

Science, senators and soldiers is the way this film rolls. A couple of scientists have invented two different and amazing things at once – cold fusion, and a viewing screen that can see into other dimensions. Just one would have been enough, surely? The handful of army guys there is commanded by Colonel Sam Synn – Joe Flanigan, formerly of “Stargate Atlantis”. He’s far too good for nonsense like this, he should be the authority figure / love interest in some sci-fi TV show. He’s easily the equal of the guys from “Defiance”, “Eureka” and “Haven”.

 

This film gets going quickly, by beaming the lab and a few bits and pieces from near the lab (a parking meter, for one) to an alternate dimension, where some sort of weird egg-laying gigantic ultraviolent Alien/Predator mix is in charge. Some of them want to go straight back, some of them want to explore, and a few of them (the sort of low-level admin people you rarely see in films) want to snag an alien and use it to get on the Fox News show “Fox and Friends”.

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That last bit is an indicator of a fairly healthy sense of humour running through this film. It’s not perfect – one grunt goes “for those of us without PhDs?” to a bit of science, when it was really bloody simple in the first place – but you may find yourself laughing with the film, rather than at it. I hope John Rhys Davies’ bizarre, intermittent, Deep South accent was a joke, too, because otherwise it was just rubbish.

 

The inevitable disasters that befall our crew are thoroughly signposted, which gave me the idea to write a sitcom, where there are insanely high stakes every episode, but everything always goes fine. Like, someone will say “doctor, don’t overload the Flux Nega-Ion Regenerator!! We could all die!”  and the doctor will do it with one hand behind his back, or something. Then some unhappy wife will storm into a room expecting to see her husband cheating, but he’s always doing something really nice for her, like knitting or washing the pots. Anyway, back to the film!

 

Most of the film is a forest-based chase film, known and loved by all us people who realise SyFy Channel movies can’t afford to film indoors. The small groups go off on their own missions,  and we wait and see if the machine will be fixed and everyone will be able to get home.

 

The weird thing is, this film is pretty good. Flanigan is a well above average leading man, there are good strong female characters, the special effects aren’t terrible, the sense of humour is decent and it doesn’t waste its time. For a SyFy movie, this is about as strong praise as you can manage! There’s the odd weird moment – the President’s science adviser pulls two of the soldiers out of quicksand, while saying “Pilates 6 times a week”. So she’s strong, right? Then, near the end, climbing a hill, her ankle gets trapped under a fairly small rock, and she’s almost completely unable to move it. It seems like they forgot, or filmed the earlier scene afterwards and improv-ed the line about pilates?

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This is perfect Sunday afternoon fare. If it’s too hot or too cold to venture outside, and you’re comfortable on the sofa when this film comes on, you’ll have a good time. I maybe wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to find it, but you could do a heck of a lot worse.

 

Rating: thumbs up

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One thought on “Ferocious Planet (2011)

  1. Pingback: The ISCFC vs. The SyFy Channel |

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