Friday, July 06, 2012

How many of you are sentient?

I think Andrew Bellware is not a very good director. I even wrote a brief parody of his movie Angry Planet, so it's no surprise that I think his movie Earthkiller, available for free online here, is also not very good.

But don't listen to me. There is scathing commentary, some of it just for the trailer alone, online. Some of it is pretty funny:
Looks like a german porn intro

lol this is that kind of movie that you're suppose to watch while you're high, haha.

That was 46 seconds of my life I could have used on better things like getting my teeth pulled out.. I know not everyone can't have wast amounts of money to make movies for but there is no excuse for when already the trailer shows how bad the acting is...

made in 1970's(looks like)

Miles above earth.....there are women are running around in miniskirts

And on and on. I also found this somewhat lengthier review of Earthkiller at - this person seems to have watched the entire movie:
Earthkiller is one of those movies where afterwards you have two questions. The first is "What is it" and the second is "why did I bother watching it?" It was bad. The sets were fake and the acting and script was far worse. The CGI looked like a video game and the non-CGI effects were far worse. Usually you want a movie like this to stop tossing so much ketchup around. This one didn't have the money in their budget to use real ketchup...
I haven't read the script before Bellware got his hands on it, so it's possible it's much better than the final product. I suspect there was much more dialog in the original script because what's in the movie would fill about maybe fifteen pages - ten if you take out the "fucks" - and five of the pages left are spoken by a single actor, in the mystery-solving portion of the movie.

But I really must object to the criticisms of the acting - I can't speak for most of the actors, but I paid two of the actors in this movie, Nat Cassidy and Greg Oliver Bodine, to perform in plays of mine - Bodine in two different plays. And their acting was quite good.

Cassidy doesn't get to do much in Earthkiller besides insult the other space cadets (or whatever all the people with guns are supposed to be.) But bitchy people with guns is standard in Bellware's movies. In fact there are rarely more than three emotional states in Bellware's movies from what I've seen: surly, fearful and android.

So Cassidy doesn't do much in this movie, besides being surly, but he doesn't have anything to be ashamed of - other than agreeing to perform in a Pandora Machine movie.

Bodine on the other hand, does get a chance to do well. It helps that his character, Schroeder, gets half the entire dialog in the movie, since he delivers the exposition which solves the mystery of who the amnesiac android lady is and who the bad guy is.

And in fact, this an improvement over the matching scene in Angry Planet, in which Bodine's character also solves the mystery of the movie. The Earthkiller scene works better because Schroeder isn't an idiot, as the character in Angry Planet was, and Bodine even underplays the surliness in Earthkiller, considering that he's been mortally wounded by the space zombies haunting the spaceship and his primary goal in life when we meet him is to die before he also turns into a space zombie.

And you know that he will beg the fembot to kill him because people are always asking to be killed in this movie - or justifying why they have to kill somebody. Because otherwise they'll turn into killer zombies. Much of the plot of this movie is murky, but that particular point is made crystal clear thanks to incessant reiteration.

But you almost care that Bodine's character suffers and dies, because unlike every other character in the movie, his Schroeder has an inner life. He gets to display a variety of emotions - resignation, contempt, despair, and we even see him in a flashback as a competent, obedient soldier. It all goes by very quickly because the main purpose of his scene is to explain who in the hell is the manic pixie psychotic, played by David Ian Lee, and why he suddenly shows up 3/4 of the way through the movie. The fact that Bodine is able to convey a sense of a three-dimensional human in the very brief time he's given is a testament to his acting abilities. Which is why I used him in two productions of mine. If the acting in this movie is considered bad, it's not the fault of at least two of the actors in the movie.

If it wasn't for the random yet frequent death, this movie would be like an episode of Scooby Doo, with a gang of young people running around hunting and being hunted by mysterious, super-natural-seeming monsters. And if Bellware had any sense at all, he would have played up the humorous aspects of the scenario - although it's quite possible that surly insults are his idea of humor.

But I would suggest that Pandora Machine movies lack more than humor - they lack humanity. The spectacle of a bunch of surly people, about whom we know nothing, running around with guns, insulting each other and then getting killed is a kind of emotion-deadening assembly line. Characters are interchangeable, soul-less meat puppets

A very perceptive critic once noted that the main reason why the first three released Star Wars movies were any good was thanks to Harrison Ford. The Star Wars movies without Ford (episodes 1 - 3) lack the humor and fun of episodes 4 - 6 and that's because there's no character like Han Solo, and no actor with the charisma to pull off a Han Solo. Without Han Solo/Harrison Ford, Star Wars becomes way too much about midi-chlorians and virgin births and bureacracy.

I doubt he realizes it, but Bellware actually has an actor who could be his very own Harrison Ford. Although Bodine does a good job, an actor who stands out even more in this movie is Tom Rowen, who plays one of the interchangeable space cadets. He is given much less to work with than Bodine, but his personality and charisma come through in spite of that. He dominates every scene he is in, no matter what tired factory-issue dialog he's made to say. He's a natural-born movie actor.

If Bellware was smart, he'd give Rowen a Han Solo-like role and build the movie around that character. By which I mean to say, it will never happen.