Dir: Billy O’Brien
Starring: Joe Flanigan, John Rhys-Davies, Catherine Walker,
The SyFy Original films are very much a love or hate thing with me, and I am sure they are for many others. When done right they can be really entertaining and a lot of fun, when done wrong they can truly be unwatchable. Alien Gateway (aka Ferocious Planet) was one I actually had not heard of, so I put it on without any expectations and I was pleasantly surprised. This was a SyFy Original done well; it was entertaining, silly and watchable.
The story here kind of reminded me of the TV shows Stargate and Sliders, which is rather funny considering who appears in it. Basically a team of scientists and reseachers with soldiers are present at a base. They are there to see a device, which shows what parallel dimensions look like, but something goes wrong and the device malfunctions, which takes them to one of the dimensions. With strange creatures surrounding them, the remaining people must fight them and find a way home.
Yes there is very much a Stargate or Sliders theme there; it does feel like a double episode of one of those shows, which isn’t really a bad thing. I think that aspect actually gave it a decent flow, which sadly dragged a bit in the middle but it picked up. This is actually decently written and directed, with the humour intentional and played nicely. The laughs hit for the most part, without it being way too silly. The CGI was decent, and it didn’t look too bad, which was a big step up. It was nice to see something that actually really felt sci-fi in nature, even if it wasn’t to be taken seriously.
The cast here are fine, although Joe Flanigan carries the piece and he does it well. He was right at home with his role, having had the Stargate: Atlantis experience. The man really showed some strength in being charismatic enough to be the lead, with a well-balanced performance. This is a film that I think his fans will enjoy; I am looking forward to see what he has to offer in 6 Bullets. John Rhys-Davies is a big sell here, but his role is nothing more than a glorified cameo. It is a shame after 15 minutes he is out, because he really commanded the screen and was great to watch.
Alien Gateway isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but it is an upper tier SyFy Original film. I was impressed by it, and I am sure SyFy fans will like it also. It is a decent way to pass an afternoon if you enjoy the genre or the talents. It is what it is, and it does a good job with that.
The Australian DVD:
The DVD I reviewed was a screener, so I am unable to comment on Picture/Audio quality.
DVD details here.
Thanks to Bill, care of Eagle Entertainment for the copy.