The Asylum Returns With Yet Another Mockbuster. And This One’s Not So Terrible.
Main Cast: Adrian Paul & Richard Grieco
Director: Thunder Levin
Intrigued by the idea for the M. Night Shayamalan movie After Earth but don’t want to watch Will Smith’s kid “emote” for 90 minutes? Who can blame you? So why not watch the Asylum movie AE: Apocalypse Earth instead? It stars Adrian Paul (“Highlander: The Series) and Richard Grieco (“21 Jumpstreet”) , so you know there’s star power galore, plus it was written and directed by Thunder Levin, the man behind the now-classic Sharknado script. How can you go wrong?
You know what I’m discovering about these Asylum mockbusters? That, as terrible and cheap and cheesy as they are, they’re really hard to hate. Don’t get me wrong, AE: Apocalypse Earth is a bad movie, no doubt about that. But it’s competently made. The story isn’t original, obviously, being based somewhat on the After Earth idea, and the ending is predictable from the first minute the opening credits are rolling. The acting can’t be considered lazy because the only two people who have any real chance of trying to give a good performance are Adrian Paul as Lt. Frank Baum (get it? L. Frank Baum, and Paul’s character here wakes up from cryosleep to find himself in a strange new world) and Bali Rodriguez as the native Lea. Paul gives it his all, but the character is so poorly written, he’s hobbled from the start. As for Rodriguez, this is her first movie, and English is obviously not her first language.
So the story is pretty simple. Earth is being attacked by aliens, so they all pile into huge space arks and set sail for space, each ship heading toward a different new planet in hopes of re-establishing the human race. When Paul and Grieco’s ship, the Albert Einstein, crash lands on a strange planet only moments after waking everyone from cryosleep, the humans are met by a very unfriendly welcoming party. The planet is populated by invisible aliens that use the Predator camouflage effect to sort of blend into the background, but still leave enough of a shimmer that it renders the entire effect moot.
Paul and Grieco, along with the requisite ragtag band of survivors, set off into the jungle in search safety, stumbling upon Lea, a native girl who learned the human’s language while being held in a prison camp with survivors of a previously crashed ship, the Isaac Newton. Lea is an outcast from her own people, coming from a tribe of white-skinned–literally white–humanoids, but she was born with multicolored skin that forms a natural camouflage pattern over her entire body.
Her tribe is also hunted by the chameleons, but the two groups agree to work together and destroy the oppressors, which will allow the humans to grab the fuel cell from their crashed ship and use it to power an escape ship so they can get back to earth.
Little do they know–and this here’s a spoiler that’s hardly a spoiler at all if you’ve been paying attention!–they’re already ON Earth.
This was sort of a fun movie, without actually being GOOD. The effects were ridiculously bad, especially the giant CGI insects that attack the humans, and the props were laughable as well. The guns the chameleons and humans alike used on each other looked like huge toy machine guns from some video game, but instead of firing bullets or lasers, the front of the thing lit up in sparks like the end of a stun gun. So whatever it was supposed to be pretending to fire, all the viewer sees is a little electric arc and a fizzle sound. The budget for this movie was obviously very low.
However, while I can’t say it’s a good movie, I can’t say it’s a bad one, either. After all, there’s not a sign of the Smith kid, which is a huge plus for me, and considering some of the other movies I’ve subjected myself to recently, this one at least didn’t look like it was shot on some guy’s Windows phone with a group of untalented friends. Levin may not be much of a writer or director, but at least The Asylum can spring for the good cameras and some recognizable faces onscreen. Yeah, it’s just Paul and Grieco, but what’re you gonna do, they’re mocking a Jaden friggin’ Smith vehicle.
In the end I find myself mostly indifferent toward AE: Apocalypse Earth. I think there’s a chance I may have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t already expected the ending from the get-go, but when you’re mocking a movie about a crash land on an earth so far in the future it’s nearly unrecognizable, you’re kinda giving that one away for free anyway. So I guess I can do nothing else but shrug, add this one to my ever-expanding list of movies I’ve seen, and move on to the next one, whatever it may be.