One of the reasons I love independent cinema is because it never ceases to surprise me. One such surprise is in the form of a new science fiction movie called Alien Planet. Director and writer Alan Maxson tells us a tale of Loch and Brocheet. Their species have been at war with each other for a lifetime. Loch’s race was exiled to a remote, hostile planet. Once a year they must use a drop of mysterious purple liquid to rejuvenate the limited resources the planet provides for them to survive. Brocheet’s species, having exhausted their planet’s resources after conquering it, send Brocheet and his dog-like companion Giree to steal the purple liquid to save their species. Soon Loch and Brocheet find themselves in a dire situation where they have to put their differences aside to survive.
Alien Planet is an impressive throw back to the 80s sci-fi films like Enemy Mine. It has a great blending of sci-fi action and social commentary. The themes of prejudice, abuse of global resources, and doing what is right vs what you are ordered to do runs throughout the film. The extensive use of practical effects was a pleasant surprise. The prosthetics they used on the actors were highly detailed and held up during the action scenes; no seams showing here. They also were able to work within their budget and create some interesting starship interiors. The characters felt like they were on a ship and not just in a closet with random LED lights. The landscape of the planet is sparse, but there were some wonderful practical living planet creatures that made me smile every time I saw them. They reminded me of the creature that tried to eat Flash in Flash Gordon from 1980. Brocheet has a companion creature named Giree, who is also a practical effect. The design of the creature was similar to the caterpillar in House 2 but with the attitude of a gremlin. The puppeteering was done well, and the interaction by the other characters helped to sell the idea Giree was real.
The performances by the Alexandra Bokova, who plays Lock, and Hunter Smith, who plays Brocheet, really help elevate Alien Planet above many indie science fiction films. It could not have been easy to emote through all of the make-up and foam rubber yet they were able to do so. Bokova brings in a fiery performance, making the audience feel the hurt and frustration Lock and her people have suffered for so many years. Smith’s Brocheet is a soldier just trying to do his job. He seems to be a bit more sympathetic to Lock than vice versa. It is an interesting dynamic between the two. Thanks to the performances of both, you buy into the gauntlet of emotions they are feeling.
One of the few issues was when the green screen and CGI was used, it really stood out noticeably against the practical effects. Also, while I know we are dealing with alien species, our two main characters seem to be able to take an excessive amount of physical injury. I understand the filmmakers wanted to have the attacks by the creature feel and look brutal, but it still had me asking “How are they still alive?” a few times. I also understand that the characters were driven by their goal, but it felt a bit much. While much of the story plays out as expected, the ending was a surprise and is sure to get a reaction from the audience.
Alien Planet is not trying to be different. It follows many of the standard sci-fi tropes but it does them well. If you are a fan of independent science fiction movies and or good practical effects then you will want to put it on your watch list. Alien Planet is out now on VOD.
I have been reviewing films since high school. I love discussing films with those who share my passion for them. I also do video reviews on YouTube and on my podcast.