Zombie Planet (2004)
Having taken part in making a few short movies, I can only imagine the labor poured into making a feature length film, let alone a two-hour film like Zombie Planet. So I feel bad when I say that I really can't recommend this movie at all. I'm not sure why I feel worse about it for this movie than for others that I've trashed. Maybe because it had potential, or maybe because there was obviously more thought put into it than the usual movies that I rate low. But by the end of the movie I was just gritting my teeth, waiting for the torture to end.
What really killed it was the dialog. Even with bad actors, good dialog has a natural feel. You actually believe that this is something a given character might say in those circumstances. In Zombie Planet, most of the dialog seems like a caricature of real dialog. It's there simply to reflect what's going on in the scene, and, to quote Shakespeare, it's "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Almost every utterance is Fraught With Tension and Conflict, accompanied by Burning-Eyed Anger, which is supposed to indicate that the people on the screen are Temperamental Tough Guys. Real people don't behave like that. It would be too tiring. The fact that many of the actors can't really deliver a line just adds to the unreality. When the dialog isn't like this, it's a laborious exposition of the back story, told in a regretful tone about where our society went astray.
This is the biggest shame, because the back story is one of the best things about this movie. The zombie plague was brought about by a diet pill designed to stop craving for carbs. Because it had such potential to make money, it wasn't sufficiently tested, and people who took it eventually went to the other end of the spectrum, craving protein to such an extent that they became consumed with the desire to eat it, preferably raw and kicking. Given our weight-obsessed culture, the amount of people who had taken the drug by the time this effect started was almost half the population. Writer/director George Bonilla then works in a few jabs at the government, whose response to this crisis was to shelter the rich in fortified cities with abundant supplies and to give token handouts to everybody else, pretty much leaving them to fend for themselves. Now that I say this, it reminds me of Romero's Land of the Dead, so I have to give kudos to Bonilla for getting that idea out there before Romero.
The main character, Kane (Frank Farhat), is a mysterious wanderer who can kick zombie ass. He finds shelter with a group of survivors called The Dregs, led by ex-crisis counselor Dr. Warren (Christopher Rose). Tension almost immediately arises between Kane and the town jerk, Frank (Karl Gustav Lindrom), whose common-law wife Julie (Rebecca Minton) has the hots for Kane. (One of the things that really bugged me was that we don't find out that Frank and Julie are even involved until late in the movie.) The Dregs are terrorized by the resident evil, psychotic warlord Adam (Matt Perry; no, not the Friends guy) and his evil, psychotic henchmen. Adam is technically supposed to be distributing supplies from the government to the surrounding area, but he only does this enough to keep the population on the edge of survival.
Like I said, this movie had potential. It sounds like a good story, but the details are its downfall. Bonilla makes the mistake of having unrealistic plot points for the purpose of establishing a scene he wants to have. For instance, there needs to be a reason to give the audience the back story, so Bonilla makes Kane totally unaware of what's been going on in the world for the past four years, and Warren fills him in. When someone asks Kane if he's been living in a cave, he replies that he has. In another scene, hungry zombies who have just been freed wait politely for someone to stop speaking his line before they attack him.
There are some decent fight scenes, but too much of the movie is taken up with the talking and posturing of the actors. Despite its length, the movie still has an open ending, referring to the sequel, Zombie Planet 2: Adam's Revenge, which I hear is much better. I hope to investigate soon.