Wednesday, May 29, 2013

AE: Apocalypse Earth (2013)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long


Company:  The Asylum

Runtime: 87 mins

Format: BluRay

Plot: In the future, a group of refugees flee from a dying Earth only to crash on an exotic planet where they must fight ruthless aliens to survive.

Review: Earlier this month I watched and reviewed Asylum's other most recent flick, Age of Dinosaurs and thought it totally raised the bar as far as expectations go on all future Asylum movies, because it was so incredibly good that now that I know they're capable of such a high caliber of entertainment, that anything less then such caliber will simply no longer do. Shortly after I was able to watch and review an early copy of an upcoming Asylum movie, 100 Degrees Below Zero and thought, for lack of subtlety, that it was pretty much utter crap and a gigantic step back in the wrong direction from Age of Dinosaurs. While the trailer for this one had me excited and expecting something more along the lines of Age of Dinosaurs in terms of how I think of it, knowing that 100 Below Zero fell way below what I was expecting had me kind of worried for this one. However in the end, it landed somewhere between the two.


AE: Apocalypse Earth arrives just in time to cash in, as Asylum always so expertly does, on a recent upcoming Hollywood Blockbuster, the Will/Jayden Smith-starrer, After Earth, though how similar to each other the two end products will end up being still remains to be seen. This movie starts right off in the thick of action, as Earth's population is being evacuated by the military into giant transport ships while the planet is being attacked and destroyed by invading alien forces. We don't really get a whole lot of backstory on this part, like no info is given at all on these aliens or why they're invading or anything like that, but I'm fine with that as this part of the movie isn't really that important anyway and it's just an excuse to get our main characters into space and crashing on the unknown jungle planet that the bulk of the movie takes place on. It's here that shortly after crashing, the survivors get ambushed and attacked by unseen cloaked foes that are relentless in their pursuit. It isn't long before our cast of characters team up with and receive help from a green-skinned humanoid Native alien girl as she helps lead them on an expedition to a downed spaceship that just might be in working order and could get them off the planet. Of course the journey is not an easy one, as there are other dangers along the way other then the pursuing cloaked figures, such as the many dangerous man-eating species' of wild life that live on the planet as well.

Along for the adventure is Richard Grieco playing the main boss company man in charge of this particular transport of people, and many will know him from the original 21 Jump Street TV show, Veronica Mars, or a recurring voice on Gargoyles, although fellow B-Movie philes such as myself will probably know him best as Loki from another Asylum movie, Almighty Thor, and as pretty much the only strong aspect of that movie. Just like in that one, he's excellent here as well and continues to be an entertaining actor to watch in these movies, although it is a bit disappointing that he spends about half an hour of the movie unconscious. Joining him is Adrian Paul from the Highlander TV series and latest two movies, though some may also recognize him from the Killer Yeti SyFy Channel movie from earlier this year, Deadly Descent, aka Abominable Snowman. It's actually kind of fitting (albeit it totally coincidental) that I'm posting a review for AE: Apocalypse Earth today, seeing as how it's actually Adrian Paul's birthday today, so Happy Birthday, dude! Here he plays the leading military man who butts heads initially with Richard Grieco, although they eventually learn to accept one another. Unfortunately, his character in this movie doesn't really have a whole lot of personality or really any charisma, which is never a good thing for a lead character to lack, but in terms of his acting he did fine what what little he was given. The girl playing the green-skinned alien chick that falls in love with Adrian Paul was actually better then you would expect, considering this is the very first movie for that actress and she came across very competently in the role. I also felt the love story subtplot was not nearly as forced I was initially expecting it would be, although I have no idea what she sees in him since he's very emotionless and bland. In the trailers, I was actually thinking this part of the movie would be a pretty big riff on James Cameron's Avatar, but seeing it in execution I can say that it really doesn't resemble that at all. The rest of the cast are also mostly unknowns, and are about as good as you would expect in a movie like this – not really all that good, but serviceable enough. The Android character provided a few good chuckles though, and was often the comedic relief, and most of his comedic bits were Hits more often then they were Misses so he was normally a joy to watch, especially during a scene where he had to act as bait to lure a giant killer lizard away from the rest of the group.


And speaking of a giant killer lizard and other such things, the CGI in this movie was a mixed bag. The giant killer lizard and most of the shots of spaceships were good, but some other parts such as a scene with giant insects, any time that laser blasts are shown, and the evil invisible aliens, the CGI didn't really look impressive at all. Luckily though, it was better more often then it was bad, however even when it was good it wasn't as good as I've come to expect from some of Asylum's more recent movies so in that regard it was a slight step backwards – but only slight, mind you. 

With that said, the biggest fault of the movie is making the main villains invisible. Sure, we see a few bad-CGI shots of them as they dart around here and there, but they are, essentially, completely invisible. It was my biggest complaint of one of Asylum's movies from last summer, Alien Origin, and it's again my biggest complaint here – it doesn't give us anything to invest ourselves in during the action scenes and, quite frankly, it's just not fun to watch people fight invisible bad guys. I realize it's a cost-saving measure but really, it's just a slap in the face to those of us who have to watch the movie because there's just nothing to watch when what we're supposed to be watching is something that's invisible! It makes you want to just skip ahead to the next scene because you get bored very easily when all the action is invisible.


AE: Apocalypse Earth may not be groundbreaking or quite as good as some of Asylum's other recent stuff, but it's not a bad effort either; Despite a few flaws, it was enjoyable enough for its short runtime and was a decent little sci-fi adventure flick filled with some fun scenes of danger, a few good story beats (including a twist ending that's easy to spot coming from as early as the opening minutes, but that doesn't stop it from being any less fun of a twist), and a bit of good acting, however in the grand scheme of things it's pretty forgettable overall. I'm writing this review the day after having watched the movie and even now it was a bit of a chore trying to remember enough stuff about the movie to pump out a review. Not to say that it's a terrible movie, just that there's nothing that's really stand-out or memorable about it either. Add to that, the overly-annoying fact that the bad aliens are all invisible and they ask that we use our imaginations to picture them, when they play such an integral part to the movie, really brings it down a bit for me as well.

In the end, it was a decent effort that fell a bit short of its mark, but it's still a fine enough one-time viewing time-waster for fellow B-Movie fans that enjoy the work that Asylum puts out for us. Just don't expect it to stick with you for long after you've finished watching it.

5/10 rooms in the Psych Ward


4 comments:

  1. Enjoyed catching the aircraft registration number of the "spaceship"... N369FA is a retired Boeing 727, and it's a parking lot attraction at a restaurant in Costa Rica.

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  2. i think i just loved the scene where the pilot goes on a short lived tumble down into the mass grave and there was a bit of a ciff hanging scene of the captain catching him in the nick of time and givin him the "i've got you... friend" look and pulling him to safety dispite the fact that the slope was probably less than a 30 degree decline and he could have easily just stood up and walked the foot or so out. meanwhile methane floats around in highly volitile levels but only seems to be prevalent when someone cares to mention it.
    this film reminds me of bruno mattai's robowar in fact it's almost robowar when you ignore the budget and the fact that they got there via spaceship

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    1. Hahaha, yeah, stuff like that is prevalent in all these low budget romps - part of the reason they're so fun to watch! lol

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  3. Nice parking lot references a movie lover or paparazzi been there done that

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