A telepathic girl and her warrior comrades from a planet known as Rathe, travel to Earth to save humanity from an impending zombie apocalypse in director Richard Lowry’s Sci-Fi/Fantasy/comedy/horror hybrid, Apocalypse Rising.
At this moment in time, I think it is safe to say that the two biggest TV shows in the world are currently Game Of Thrones and The Walking Dead. While over the past 90 years of television history, one of the most enduring programmes of all time, as well as its many spin-offs, I would argue is the legendary Star Trek. I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea of combining all three of these massive genre shows with the aim of grabbing their own piece of the popularity pie.
Step up screenwriter Gregory P Wolk who, when he finished the screenplay for Apocalypse Rising, must have had the biggest, silliest grin on his face. The film itself is absolutely absurd and inherently goofy, yet oddly enough it manages to be amusing and also enjoyable. I am happy to report that nothing like restraint or common sense got in Wolk’s way when he finalised his script.
The Movie opens with its credits running over an interesting tapestry of sacrifice, violent death, and purgatory which helps set the audience up for what may very well be a real journey into hell. With some (decent for its budget) special FX, we are thrown into the final battle for the planet of Rathe where a group of warrior-like survivors are escaping with their lives from the now lost planet.
Here we are introduced to a number of fantasy and sci-fi genre character tropes from Magnum the barbarian (Shane Samples), his Amazon partner Thora (Victoria Steadman), cocky flyboy Phoenix (Justin Lebrun), his Amazonian partner Beset, token villain and all-around bad guy Karl (James R Frey) and finally our main protagonist Mia (Hunter Alexes Parker)- a telepath who can not only read minds but also has the ability to travel through space and time.
This is the first big test for Apocalypse Rising, as these characters are all key to how we as an audience will enjoy the film. If we like them we will believe in them and their mission. If we don’t, then the following 75-minutes would become absolute torture. Thankfully each member of the group has their own endearing qualities that the actors manage to eke out of their respective characters. Samples (as Magnum) gives a brilliant performance of deadpan line delivery that would make Guardians Of The Galaxy’s Dave Bautista envious.
At the eight-minute mark, the film gets to the point where Wolk’s imagination really ran wild. We flashback to Mary and Joseph riding to Bethlehem on a donkey and to say any more would spoil what is one of the film’s biggest and somewhat craziest surprises. Then our group of ‘Rathians’ land on planet earth in of all places a Jerusalem archaeological dig site where they meet and befriend a female archaeologist whose name is India Jones. Yes, that’s right. The name is explained later on in the film but Shiah Luna as India is a revelation. She is a star in waiting and deserves a lot of praise for her spunky, funny and headstrong portrayal and also demands a bigger role in another film.
Did I forget to mention that it is now the year 2074 although it really doesn’t look any different from the year 2018? Well it is and our heroes now need to help mankind avoid a soon-to-be zombie apocalypse while also finding time and random places to ‘procreate’ with each other whenever the urge takes them.
No matter how unlikely any of the story is, Apocalypse Rising is a hugely entertaining film directed with calm professionalism by Richard Lowry, but what makes the journey entertaining is all of the cast and crew have their tongues firmly in their cheeks. They have all managed to create a successful hybrid of a number of genres and even though not all of the jokes work there is enough to keep a steady smile on your face. While at the other end of the scale there is plenty of gore, sex, and zombies to satisfy the horror fiends.
Although it loses its way somewhat towards the end and suffers from what can only be described as special FX budget cuts during the finale the film is a fun ride most of the time. Ultimately, Apocalypse Rising depends more on the human interactions between its characters than anything else and thankfully the performances are all top notch so, despite that loss of control in the final battle scenes, Apocalypse Rising is a very satisfying and hugely entertaining 80 minutes.