Monday, 8 August 2016
Starship Rising (2014)
One of the worst films I have ever seen was 2006 indie SF film Battlespace, which was written and directed by Neil Johnson. It was excrutiatingly dull, with a lifeless story, lifeless characters, and lifeless narration. All of which is relevant to this review because Starship Rising is also written and directed by Neil Johnson. So the obvious question is: has eight years of additional experience improved his work at all?
Well, he's certainly become more ambitious. Even if we discount all the green screen work, this film is packed with special effect sequences, boasts a much larger cast of characters and revolves around much bigger, more epic events. Specifically, a looming interstellar war between two immense empires, and the small group of rebels trying to prevent it from occurring.
Unfortunately, ambition is not execution, and on that front Johnson falls short.
His direction is mostly adequate. I'm not all that impressed with the way he constructs his scenes and uses his camera, but he displays a basic understanding of the technical aspects of what he is doing. He's also done a pretty good job finding effects people, as the film looks pretty good for a small budget SF flick, especially one with so many panoramic shots and spaceship sequences.
His writing, on the other hand, remains monumentally bad. I mean, it's not as awful as say Scavengers was: for all that Starship Rising fails to communicate a coherent narrative, is packed with barely-distinguishable characters spouting second-rate dialogue, and lacks an actual ending, it does actually seem to be trying to be a movie. Johnson might write terrible exposition and trite plot points, but he at least remembers them later in the script. Still, "Not as bad as Scavengers" is praise so faint as to be invisible.
Stay well away.