Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Westerns aren’t always historical. There’s nothing new about fusing horse opera and space opera, for instance, and Heretic’s PLANETFALL (2005) is one of the more recent examples of that particular genre fusion - the Space Western.

Shot on hi-def on a very small budget, this sci-fi homage to Spaghetti Westerns sends a couple of competing female bounty hunters into a hostile section of the psi-war-torn planet Zita, in search of a mysterious crate called "Planetfall."

While certainly ambitious, with its copious CGI effects and virtual backgrounds, PLANETFALL is, unfortunately, too slow-paced and chatty to really work. The pace is draggy, and the too-wordy script overwhelms the cast, most of who appear to be amateurs. Considering the limitations of its cast, the film would have benefited from a simpler, more action-driven plot and a lot less expositional backstory. The computer effects are fairly decent, considering the budget, but the extensive use of green screen also has the unfortunate side effect of making the film feel like a video game.

While inexpensive CGI has opened doors for independent filmmakers in allowing them to attempt types of stories that previously would have been prohibitive, it doesn’t make up for weak scripts or performances.

Heretic’s DVD of PLANETFALL presents the feature in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby 5.1/Dolby 2.0 Stereo. There are 3 commentary tracks, a 60 minute behind-the-scenes documentary, a production design featurette, deleted scenes, a documentary about some of the locations where the film was shot, and an interview with B-movie director Ted V. Mikels (ASTRO-ZOMBIES).

As an example of ambitious ultra-low budget fantasy filmmaking, PLANETFALL is worth a viewing. There’s a certain amount of talent and potential evident, but it’s really not a particularly good movie.

BUY: Planetfall