For the entire month of April, Cinefessions will be locked into The Asylum, reviewing films released by the famed studio. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout April you will get another review on a film released by The Asylum. April’s podcast will also be devoted to films from The Asylum. Today, Ashe hits the otherworldly jungles of AE: Apocalypse Earth.

AE Apocalypse EarthTitle: AE: Apocalypse Earth (2013)
Inspired By: After Earth (2013)
Director: Thunder Levin
Runtime: 87 minutes

I ended up picking a much better film my second go around for April in the Asylum. That’s not to say AE: Apocalypse Earth was a great film, but far more competent than my previous choice, 500 MPH Storm.  This is actually the first of the mockbusters I’ll be reviewing for the month, and while it was obviously meant to cash in on After Earth, it also kind of applies to Oblivion as well.  Released on home video just a week before After Earth hit theaters, it’s pretty easy to tell where it was aiming.

While AE is a mockuster, this could have been a pretty decent stand-alone sci-fi action flick if they’d given it a bit more of a budget so the effects weren’t quite so cheap, and if a few parts had been tweaked a bit more to make it its own film instead of ripping off bits and pieces of other sci-fi films along the way. It also gives us a twist ending that’s not really all that much of a twist if you’ve been paying attention to sci-fi films released since the mid-1960s.  On top of that, apart from three of the actors who get the most screen time, the rest of the cast just doesn’t deliver.   They’re on screen for cannon fodder, more or less, and most of them I couldn’t care less about.  The big three I’m talking about include Richard Greico, who I didn’t recognize as it’s been awhile since I’ve seen him in anything, Adrian Paul of the Highlander series, and Bali Rodriguez, a model-turned-actress who actually does a better job with her character than both Paul and Greico. 

One of the acting homage’s that drove me up the wall is the android of the film, named TIM and played by Gray Hawks. They decided to have him do his best impression of Brent Spiner mocking the character he played on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It’s awkward and never really works well as TIM is only there to serve as monster bait when they need it.  I’m sure it was meant for a bit of comic relief, but it just comes across as annoying.

The film is shot in Costa Rica, which adds a lot to the movie as a kind of gritty jungle on another planet.  While the location does add a lot, the effects do not, and the cinematography is just ok.  They decided that the big baddies are going to run around invisible and Predator-like, which is fine, but it’s only menacing for about ten minutes before the idea wears out its welcome.  The audience needs to see these things a bit, too, so we know what our heroes are up against, and we never get that at all, even when they kill the critters.  The promise of a face to face with the critters as shown on the poster for the film never happens.  The hinting just isn’t enough, though, and left me hanging for something that would make this more than just a SyFy movie of the week.  Sadly, this is actually one of the better Asylum releases I’ve watched, and it managed to have something of a plot to it.  While I didn’t love it, it was at least watchable and entertaining, which is all I ever ask for in a film.




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