12th Jul2023

‘Alien Planet’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Stars: Hunter C. Smith, Alexandra Bokova, Eric Prochnau, Naiia Lajoie, Richard Dorton, Daniel Edward Masterson, Rob Batie, Donald Russell  | Written and Directed by Alan Maxson

Best known for his work playing monsters and creatures, Alan Maxson has a fascinating career containing credits such as The Gingerdead Man’s mouth, Shark Fuel Fiend, and King Ghidorah’s performance capture in 2019’s Godzilla: King of The Monsters. He turns his hand to writing and directing this intergalactic feature, complete with a history that has to be established first thing.

Long oppressed by the Kameen, the Lokkein rose up to try and free themselves from their captors. The brutal battles slaughtered many of their race, leaving the few Lokkein survivors exiled to a planet without drinkable water. The only reason they survive this barren world is a rejuvenation vial, a strange liquid that rejuvenates the planet’s liquid once a year. It is quite the amount of information front-loading this film, yet things flow more smoothly once the info dump is over.

A Kameen warrior, Brocheet (Hunter C. Smith), ventures to the Lokkein-inhabited world in search of their rejuvenation vial, as it is the only thing which can save his people’s home now that it is depleted of its resources. He arrives on the planet and, along with Lokkein widow Lock (Alexandra Bokova), the pair are captured by a massive creature known as The Dweller (Eric Prochnau). Seeing no other option, the captives decide to work together in order to break out and find the desired vial.

Enemies forcibly cooperating to survive is a well-worn story that keeps reoccurring, covering interesting ground as it allows the characters to see each other for who they are rather than what they perceive. It is a shame the story spends more time than necessary on the captivity part, when this shows viewers and the characters layers to the central pairing, including how much Brocheet cares for his cat-like pet, Giree, and Lock’s determination to revive her somehow recently deceased husband.

While some of the performances can feel difficult to connect with, there must be a difficulty in conveying such emotion under such prosthetics, which Christopher Eccleston once likened to “washing your feet with your socks on”. It may explain why some performances try compensating vocally, although it does not dampen how the tremendous practical effects bring alive the various races and life forms.

Social commentary is woven into the tale regarding the weaponization of scaremongering and misinformation, particularly the tales which paint the subjugated race as villainous, in true “history is written by the victors” fashion. While it can teeter towards the most basic of ideas, there is never a compulsion to reach Green Book levels of intelligence-insulting realisations about how racism is bad.

What has been crafted is a fascinating vision of Maxson’s, from the history which opens the film to the word substitutes in the spirit of Farscape or Battlestar Galactica. This extends through the story to an ending more thoughtful than expected, showing how the path taken courtesy of fear and hatred reaches a tragic endpoint in this passion project full of promise.

*** 3/5

Alien Planet is available on Blu-ray now via Amazon


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