Planet Raptor (2008)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Steven Bauer, Musetta Vander, Ted Raimi, Vanessa Angel, Peter Jason
Directed by Gary Jones
In space no one can hear you scream, "Someone made a sequel to Raptor Island? You have got to be joking!"
No joke. Planet Raptor AKA Raptor Island 2: Raptor Planet AKA Jurassic Planet (the only one that had any cover art) is the follow-up to 2004's Raptor Island (review), one of the worst Sci-Fi Channel original movies ever. Yet along comes a sequel - sort of. Most franchises have to work their way through multiple sequels before the producers decide there's nowhere to go but outer space. All it took was one terrible movie and the Raptor Island people realized it would be for the best if it all just got blasted into farthest regions of space.
Velociraptors in space ... Somewhere Roger Corman must be kicking himself for having not thought of doing a Carnosaur in Space movie first.
Lorenzo Lamas survived at the end of Raptor Island, therefore he does not return. Steven Bauer got eaten by a big lizard at the end of Raptor Island, so, naturally, he is back for the sequel. To be fair, he's not playing the same character and the only thing tying the two films together is the common theme of soldiers trapped in a remote location shooting at a horde of velociraptors. This pseudo-sequel is set in the not-so-distant future; a future where man is traveling amongst the stars and beaming down onto unexplored planets is a possibility yet soldiers still arm themselves with the same machine guns used to gun down the raptors in Raptor Island. Like the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Steven Bauer is Captain Mace, squad leader of a small band of space marines and scientists exploring a previously uncharted planet. Vanessa Angel is a scientist who screams a lot and makes concerned faces. Ted Raimi is Dr. Tygon, a scientist who knows more than he's telling and is prone to saying things like "Here there be dragons." Musetta Vander is a tough-talking lady marine nicknamed "Jack" who flips out at the thought of anyone ever touching her gun (she must be fun on a first date). Peter Jason is a crusty old marine known as "Pappy", the only cast member with enough of a personality to care about in the slightest. The other scientists and soldiers are like the red shirts from the original "Star Trek".
The primary setting on this planet is a village, the sort you'd had have also seen on the original "Star Trek" if they'd ever landed on a planet that's civilization was built upon the works of Hans Christian Anderson. It takes about five minutes for the first raptor to strike. An atmospheric radiation storm cuts off communication to their mothership in orbit and makes it impossible for them to beam back up anytime soon. That leaves plenty of time for computer-generated raptors (that look more rubbery than the actual rubber raptor heads also used sporadically) often just standing still waiting to get gunned down before keeling over like a tipped over lawn ornament when they finally do get shot. Should have just gone ahead and had them pop like a balloon upon getting shot since most of these digital dinos appeared positively inflatable.
Some special effects shots from Raptor Island even get recycled, including a snippet of footage of a bigger dino munching on Steven Bauer that's now supposed to be a bigger dino munching on a random soldier getting shot at by Steven Bauer. Seeing Steven Bauer shooting at his own death scene from the previous film may have been this movie’s high point.
Veteran B-movie scribe Steve Latshaw's screenplay attempts to evoke the sci-fi space exploration flicks of the 1950's with little success. The film is just a tiresome exercise in watching people playing army roaming about an Eastern European locale randomly shooting in the direction of cheaply animated dinosaurs added in later. It’s apparent the producers stopped trying the moment they came up with idea of setting it in outer space.
Things do take a momentary turn for the interesting when they encounter an extraterrestrial termite that gives them a vague explanation as to what's the deal with this planet. I write "momentary" because as soon as it gives them some indication as to what is going on, it too keels over and dies. And with that we're back to the random raptor shooting gallery.
Though slightly superior to its predecessor, Planet Raptor is a prime example as to why Sci-Fi Channel original movies get such a bad wrap: lousy special effects, flat direction, listless pacing, unexciting action scenes, actors that show more personality in the closing credits outtakes reel than they ever do in the film itself, and the only potentially unique aspect of the script never gets expanded upon. No amount of biting off heads makes this planet worth visiting. With any luck this budding franchise will now go extinct.
1 out of 5
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