Ferocious Planet (2011) – Review by Roger Froilan


“Don’t Poke the Alien!!!” That’s the mantra for this made for SyFy flick. They finally did it! An exciting, good movie with a decent story! Parallel Earths, mutant dino-creatures, hot babe scientist with brains, and of course, Joe Flanigan as Colonel Sam Synn. Like Nathan Filion, Flanigan is one of those actors that I’ll pretty much watch in anything. He brings his trademark “dry wit in a crisis” with him and it serves to make a good film better. Playing another military colonel here, after his awesome run on Stargate: Atlantis as Colonel John Sheppard, Flanigan is very comfortable and believable as a calm-under-pressure soldier. This could almost have been a “Further Adventures of Col. Sheppard”, but without the SG mythology. I wonder if this was an idea that was pitched to SG, but because of SG:Atlantis’ premature cancellation it didn’t make it, and ended up as a made for SyFy film?

We open at the Federal Scientific Bureau where Colonel Synn is milling about in a storage room, obviously bored. He gets a call on his walkie-talkie that someone he was expecting has arrived. He immediately reaches into a cardboard box and pulls out an electric razor who’s charge lasts barely two seconds. Tossing that down, he pulls a whiskey bottle out of the box and takes a swig. As he exits, the camera pans down and we see in handwriting on the box, “For Emergency Use Only”. Clearly, this scene sets the stage for where Flanigan’s character is in life, and what the tone of the film will be. A great scene that illustrated quite a bit about his character, without need for much dialogue.

Next, we meet John Rhys-Davies who plays the cowardly Senator Jackson Crenshaw (aren’t they all cowardly?), and his crew of politicos who are there to determine whether they should keep funding a particular science project. Right away he refuses to shake Synn’s hand, citing a bad experience in the past. Davies’ phony southern accent slips every once in a while, but given his genre pedigree, he gets a free pass this time only. Along with the senator is Dr. Jillian O’Hara, played by Dagmar Doring, whose eyebrows are very reminiscent of Liliana Komorowska, the hot telepath from Scanners III: The Takeover. Dr. O’Hara demonstrates a device that can help us view parallel Earths (much like the one devised by Walter Bishop on Fringe), and that this requires further funding. Of course, a mishap occurs and the machine overloads and the room explodes in blinding light and quakes.

(SPOLER ALERT:) The next scene is one of the most brilliant of the film – Flanigan wakes up after the explosion and sees a small, mutated sort of creature gnawing on one of the politicians. He whips out his gun and chases it down the hall. The emergency lights are on, and at first we think that the scientists must have been transported to the parallel. But as everyone wakes up, the scientists are there. Okay, so they must have all transported to the same building in the parallel, and for some reason there are no people, or no communications at least. Nope, guess again! It turns out that the WHOLE ROOM, most of the corridor, and other bits of the building have been transported to the parallel. What a brilliant piece of filmmaking that kept you guessing right until they opened the door to the Endor-like Earth.

Here, mutated dino-creatures roam free and there is nary a human in sight. Flanigan brings back the small creature that he managed to kill and puts it on the table, just as Davies’ senator is reading him the riot act for leaving the room without waking them all up. From there it’s a slam bam rollicking good time, with Flanigan leading the way with his witty barbs. The special effects were believable and there wasn’t a lot to nitpick. Really, the only major criticism I had was that, while they do explain how the machine needs to be powered (in order to help them return home, which is a central part of the third act), they never explain how the room and corridor kept emergency power? A simple line of dialogue stating that an adjacent generator came along with them, would have settled the matter perfectly.

In one hilarious scene, two of the politicians’ assistants decide to team up when they get back home to become rich and famous over their experience. They examine the small creature that Flanigan bagged, and one of the guys pokes it with a pen. Acidic goo shoots from the creature’s carcass, and squirts all over the other guy’s head, melting into his skull and killing him. When questioned, the first guy (another political coward) blames it on the second guy, stating that he had poked it with a pen and got the goo all over himself! Dr. O’Hara then makes the broad declaration, “Don’t poke the alien!!” This line gets used a few more times in the film, and works really well to the point where the viewing audience says it even after the film is over. I’d buy that for a dollar!

To sum up: Ferocious Planet is a surprisingly fun, great adventure with a good cast. Do some characters make stupid choices? Yes, but so do some people in life. Great directing, with a good amount of scenes where I had to rewind, not believing what I just saw. The pseudo-science is well thought out and they do try to explain things as the story progresses. Ferocious Planet is a good, old-fashioned monster flick that lends itself to a sequel or possible TV series. Are you listening SyFy?

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Feedback is always welcomed at roger@horrorhaven.com!

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