“Don’t make the mistake of judging me based on my appearance. Ignorance can be a real bitch.”
— Alexandra Svoboda, the world’s leading punk rock metallurgist and geochemist
This movie has two things going for it: Eric Roberts and no IMDb reviews (at least not at the time of this writing). That means when PPV surfers and VOD streamers discover it on their cable menus (like I did) or on Amazon Prime streams, they’ll hit the IMDb for some plot and production background, and B&S About Movies sees an uptick in traffic. It’s a win-win for everyone. Yes, even for the studio that made it: The Asylum.
Is this another Shark Encounters of the Third Kind? And are we finally launching a fleet of mechanized robo-space sharks to save the Earth, you know, like back in good ol’ Godzilla days, when the green guy became a friend of man? Are the space amoebas of Yog (1970) kaiju’in us a space octopus and only marine biologist Eric Roberts can save us?
But we do get an asteroid ready to hit the Earth in fifty days. And a bickering multinational summit more interested in their individual country’s ambitions than the world’s safety. And — once again — bad, bad Russians (see Airliner Sky Battle) who don’t listen and launches the nukes everyone told them not to launch — and makes the situation worse, natch. Luckily, we do get Eric Roberts (The Arrangement, Lone Star Deception) with a set of four stars on his shoulders — with his under 10-minutes of screen time spliced throughout the film — to keep us watching. And we get a hot, fuchsia-haired punk rock geochemist (Veronika Issa) to keep us watching . . . and is it just me, or she wearing Ron Keel’s demin vest?
And we get Alex’s cancer-stricken, metallurgist-expert billionaire father who dies before he finds the answer, you know, so we think we’re watching Carl Sagan’s Contact. And we’ve got a Russian shuttle — that looks suspiciously like a decommissioned U.S. shuttle — launching rockets, because it makes us think about how the Russians stole our Skylab guidance system in Space Cowboys. And we’ve got a U.S. rocket meant for a Mars mission overhauled to carry a nuclear payload. And we get a CGI space plane, Copernicus, launching a CGI space probe, Aristotle, sporting a nifty rock-splitting laser known as a “Transducer” that punk rock girl built. And we’ve got the Divine Will, lead by one named Malachi (because all religious whack jobs must have a biblical first name), a merry band of mountain-based paramilitary religious nuts who — instead of praising God for giving man the intelligence to build techno-trinkets like a Transducer to stop asteroids — hacks the Tranducer weapons platform to thwart the mission because, well, destroying the asteroid defies “God’s Will.” And we get weapons that don’t work so — instead of being hit by one big ass rock — we’re bombarded by, as the title implies, an CGI asteroid-a-geddon that lays waste to Las Vegas and the Philippines. Oh, and Australia, but that’s okay; the “hits” are mostly in the unpopulated Outback, because, well, what’s a few dead aborigine natives down under when you’re covering up your f-ing up Armageddon.
And what we don’t get and desperately need: more past-their-prime celebrity actors that make these Asylum mockbuster disaster rips so much fun in the first place. Yeah, it’s cool to have Eric Roberts on board — even if he sits in a chair the whole time. But where’s Ian Zierling (as a hero astronaut), Tara Reid (as the Geo-scientist), and John Heard (as the religious nut) when we need them?
To that end: Most of the actors here are new the game, with our leading-lady Veronika Issa making her big screen debut in Fast and Fierce: Death Race, released by The Asylum earlier this year. The real standout of the cast is the most experienced actor of the cast — sans Eric Roberts — Craig Gellis, as Malachi. His 70-plus resume features support roles in TV series across the Big Three networks, including a leading role in the recently reviewed indie-horror Legend of the Muse. He’s really good here, so we’re looking forward to seeing more of him on screen — and in bigger, marquee-quality roles.
In the writing and directing chair we have reformed stunt man Geoff Meed˟*, who racked up 60-plus acting credits in TV series and indie films (and a role in Fast Five) before an on-set injury led him on a journey as a prolific screenwriter — with 14 credits since 2007. We reviewed Meed’s Final Draft and Canon Red debut in our quest to review all things Amityville* with 2011’s The Amityville Haunting. And if you’ve spent any time with the SyFy Channel or got swept up in the streaming-verse, you’ve watch his mockbuster-penned flicks Bermuda Tentacles, Independents’ Day, Operation Dunkirk, Atlantic Rim, San Andreas Mega Quake, and yes, his Eric Roberts-starring aerodynamic ode to all things Tom Cruise, 2020’s Top Gunner.
As you can see from the trailer, while the dueling asteroid odes of 1998 — Armageddon and Deep Impact — are clearly the mock-models here, what we’re actually left with is a mock of the Star Wars-inspired** asteroid ode of 1979, Meteor. In that film we also got a lot of Greek designations like Icarus, Orpheus, and Hercules for the rocks and weapons. But we also got James Bond as the rock-expert dude, the dude from the old American Express Card commercials who did a Dario Argento giallo*˟ (Cat o’ Nine Tails) as a boondoggling politician, and Brian Keith from Hardcastle and McCormick ranting with a bad Russian accent about the L.A. Dodgers.
However, to Meed’s credit: he does his research and has a way with the techno-exposition, so everyone sounds like the experts they’re suppose to be. And the “science,” while not exactly grounded in reality, sounds convincing, never the less. But isn’t it all just a wee-bit too talky? Yes. Do we want more CGI-action? Yes. But for his second directing credit, Meed’s delivered us a serviceable retro B-flick — and for significantly less green than the $120 million spent on Warner Bros.’ Gerald Butler-starring boondoggle, Geostorm — which received across-the-board negative reviews criticizing it as a “lackluster” and “uninspired” work. And I still haven’t made it all the way through — in spite of its incessant cable airings — and never will. I have, however, since watched the Chinese-made The Wandering Earth three times.
And so it goes for film 600-or-something for good ‘ol Eric. And because of Mr. Roberts, I made it all the way though. And I had a good time. And the next time I see Meed’s name on a film (as with Eric Roberts) I’ll watch it, for Meed’s got the Brett Piper-cum-Mark Polonia to retro-touch I love (Queen Crab).
Now, let me go a eat fudge banana swirl with Dr. Alexandra Svoboda, for she is my punk rock girl.
* Seriously, we really did watch ALL of the Amityville films, as our “Exploring: Amityville” featurette, proves.
** Our love for all things Amityville is only matched by our love for all things Star Wars, as our “Exploring: After Star Wars” featurette, proves.
*˟ Oh, boy! Do we love our Giallo round ‘ere. Check out our “Exploring: Giallo” featurette on the genre.
˟* Several of Meed’s films are available as free-with-ads streams on Tubi TV, so check ’em out:
Amityville Haunting (2011) — screenwriter and director
Airline Disaster (2010) — actor
Atlantic Rim: Resurrection (2018) — screenwriter
Bermuda Tentacles (2014) — screenwriter
D-Day: The Battle of Omaha Beach (2019) — screenwriter and actor
Hold Your Breath (2013) — screenwriter
I Am Omega (2007) — screenwriter and actor
Independents’ Day (2016) — screenwriter
Kickboxer 5: Redemption (1995) — actor
Operation Dunkirk (2016) — screenwriter
San Andreas Mega Quake (2019) — screenwriter
6 Guns (2010) — screenwriter and actor
Universal Soldiers (2007) — screenwriter