Judge Roman Martel was sucked into a dimension filled with giant cubes of sentient jelly that listened to ABBA all day long.
"The next dimension of terror." You know you could say that about a lot of made for Syfy channel movies.
I don't expect too much from your basic monster movie. Even with budget limitations, a cast and crew who have plenty of energy and know-how can create some solid entertainment. Ferocious Planet actually manages to be a bit better than what you'd normally run into on Syfy.
Dr. O'Hara (Dagmar Doring, The Front Line) has created a nifty device that can allow scientists to glimpse other dimensions. Unfortunately she's run out of funding to continue her research. So, she invites a group of politicians and power players to her lab to view the device in the hopes of inspiring them to open their wallets.
Dr. O'Hara hasn't worked out all the kinks yet. There is a tremendous explosion and the window to the other dimension becomes a door. A huge chunk of the lab and most of the folks inside are pulled into the unknown and unceremoniously dumped into a forest that looks like it could house an Ewok village or two.
Some of the travelers, like Senator Crenshaw (John Rhys-Davies, Sliders), are outraged and demand to go back home immediately. Dr. Karen Fast (Catherine Walker Leap Year) wants to stay and explore this new world. But Colonel Synn (Joe Flanigan, Stargate Atlantis) just wants to keep the people alive until O'Hara can get the machine working again. Why is he so nervous? Well, there are huge multi-eyed carnivores roaming around snacking on the survivors. Very soon, there won't be any humans left on this Ferocious Planet.
I have to give writer Douglas G. Davis some credit here. This is one of the few made for Syfy movies I've seen that didn't revolve around a group of annoying teens who happen upon a creature and are devoured one by one. Instead, we've got a adult cast involved in the action and actually concerned about surviving instead of getting wasted or laid. I also appreciate that the U.S. military wasn't the evil mastermind at the heart of the dilemma. Instead the Colonel and his men are doing their best to protect the survivors. The whole mishap occurs because of O'Hara's hasty decision to show off her invention.
For the most part the movie moves at a good pace, throwing us right into the demonstration and then into the alternate dimension fairly quickly. It also doesn't waste any time in introducing the creatures. The first one we glimpse is an agile little monster that tears apart a few people before the Colonel is able to take it out. This little guy is a nifty practical effect and sadly the only one.
The large creatures in Ferocious Planet are computer generated. In some scenes they look pretty good, but when they are running toward the camera the motion just isn't correct and ends up looking comical. Also the design of the creatures, while cool looking, seems a bit biologically wrong. Since they live in a forest environment you'd think they'd look more like a forest animal on our world. Instead they are more reptilian, perhaps closer to something you'd see in a desert. We also never see any herbivores on this world. If there are predators the size of a T-rex running around, they have to be eating something larger than your standard human.
But hey, I'm over-thinking things here. This is all about monsters eating people. You get some good gore effects in film, with people getting ripped apart and slashed and stabbed. They use a mix of practical makeup and CG gore for the splattery scenes, and it works well most of the time. With a cast that starts out fairly large, there are plenty of kills and thrills along the way.
Where the move ends up stumbling is in the second half. As the cast starts thinning so does the plot. We end up with some padding scenes involving characters walking, or dialogue that restates what has already been established. There are also a few moments where the characters have to wait, and so we wait with them. It ends up slowing momentum just when the movie should be picking up the pace. Then we get those moments where characters act in ways that no sane human would, just to move the plot in a new direction.
Vivendi's disc is pretty straight forward. The image is clear, allowing you to see the seams in the CG a little too well. The 5.1 mix keeps the roars and screams audible against the score. No extras to be found here. They must have been sucked into another dimension.
The end result is a mixed bag. There's some enjoyable stuff in Ferocious Planet, some good one liners and a few likable characters. But some of the character actions and the pacing issues in the second half keep it from being a complete winner. Grab some friends for a movie night with some riffing on the film, and this makes for a entertaining rental.
Just enough cheesy fun to be not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
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