DME Film Productions // 1996 // 104 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // January 5th, 2010
Scarier than Wall-E!
Oh boy. When you can't even find a movie listed on IMDb, you know you're in for a microscopic budget adventure.
Many years ago, eight Earth astronauts were abducted and brought to another plane -- an alien planet, obviously. It was paradise, but the alien landscape had a strange effect on the humans, messing with their physiology and brains. The astronauts were changed, quite dramatically -- and now they've been returned to Earth, laden with monstrous powers. They've also got a score to settle.
Tired of watching the humans fight, the aliens have dumped the eight back on Earth, divided into two factions. The goal: survive for two hours. If they can, they'll be allowed to return to the paradise alien planet -- may the best astronaut faction win.
Filming an epic science-fiction battle on a budget is a tricky feat, and props should be given to creator David M. Epstein for tackling such an ambitious cinematic project. That's about the only props one can give to The Second Best Science Fiction Movie Ever Made, unfortunately. In all other regards...yikes.
This is a movie whose plot is dictated entirely by its budget. Eight astronauts abducted by aliens set to have a big battle royale over the fate of an alien planet end up fighting in suburban America -- because suburban America is a lot cheaper to film in than an alien planet. This kind of thinking leads to a very bizarre experience, where eight people run around a near-empty suburban cityscape, battling each other with guns and knives. Why guns and knives? They're cheaper than alien special effects.
As for the special effects, they're predictably rough. The Second Best Science Fiction Movie Ever Made does make the best of its tiny, microscopic budget best it can, but the effect is kind of unintentionally hilarious. The effects are really the only funny part -- certainly the film tries to be witty and irreverent, but the jokes fall flat. The acting is enthusiastic, and you have to credit them thusly, but alas. It's a bad film. It's hard to escape it.
As low-budget DIY films go, there are worse out there. Our esteemed Judge David Johnston essentially lives off films that fall into that category. Here's where we get into real, awkward trouble: The Second Best Science Fiction Movie Ever Made isn't bad enough to be like, awesomely, epically bad, you know? It's just the undesirable kind of bad; the "don't watch it" kind of bad.
Although, we do get a tiny girl toting an Uzi. That's pretty sweet.
This is as bare-boned as DVDs get -- you get a trailer and the feature film, in a full frame presentation with stereo sound. The transfer is excessively soft and hazy, but considering it was probably shot on cameras cheaper and older than my car, it does the job. We're talking VHS quality here. No subtitles, nothing.
Seriously VHS! I mean, good lord, how old is this film? With no mention on its official site as to this film's date, and the DVD packaging being enigmatically mum, I checked the end credits. What do you know? 1996. Yeah, that explains a lot about the production values -- and the fashion sense.
The effects are dreadful and the plot is laughable, but there's filmmaking potential here, especially in the editing. The Second Best Science Fiction Movie Ever Made pulls off some surprisingly deft sleight-of-hand with some quick cuts and edits during fight sequences, or physical activity (like leaping fences) that actually looks pretty good.
You can salute the entrepreneurial spirit that went into making The Second Best Science Fiction Movie Ever Made, but, sadly, the title simply isn't accurate. Change "best" to "worst" and you're getting closer.
It is, technically, scarier than Wall-E, but still guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: DME Film Productions
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site