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Planetfall 
Written by: on February 11th, 2007

Release Dates: United States (2005)
Director: Gianni Mezzanotte aka Michael J. Heagle
Screenplay: Matt Saari, Michael J. Heagle
Cast: Heidi Fellner, Leitha Matz, Alan Struthers, Charles Hubbell, Snype Myers, Ted V. Mikels

DVD released: February 27th, 2007
Approximate running time: 91 Minutes (Director’s Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 16×9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby 5.1 Surround and Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Heretic Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95

Secret cargo en route to Blake Military Base mysteriously crashes, Zitan President Arch Stanton (Ted V. Mikels) dispatches an elite team for recovery.  Meanwhile, machinata Lux Antigone (Heidi Fellner) double crosses cohort Shark Sterling (Snype Myers), snatching the remote that contains both the coordinates and codes for said cargo.  Elsewhere, Wendy’s (Leitha Matz) and “Ugly’s” (Alan Struthers) moneymaking scheme is running its course.  Before long, everyone on the hunt for the secret cargo, codenamed “Planetfall.”

When I first heard of Planetfall, I incorrectly assumed that it was an adaptation of the 1983 Infocom game written by Steve Meretzky.  Instead, Planetfall is a micro-budget action cyberpunk film infused with speghetti western themes centered around the exploits of two female leads.  Many scenes found in Planetfall were designed in post, contained over 400 processed shots and green screen effects.  While the smoke and lava special effects were quite uncovincing, other effects in Planetfall were naturally realistic.  Planetfall’s futuristic tale has the underpinnings of a western.  In fact, major scenes are lifted almost directly from the famed Sergio Leone series, yet this homage doesn’t distract from the overall enjoyment of the film.  Some may find parrellels to the television series Firefly or the film Serenity, however the director claims he had no knowledge of either.  Unfortunately, I’m unable to compare or contrast between the two.

The DVD:

In the past, Heretic Films continually provided a plethora of additional materials with every release, no matter what the film’s popularity was.  Planetfall “Widescreen Special Edition” without question is currently Heretic’s most ambitious release to date containing three audio commentaries, deleted scenes, a historical documentary, behind-the-scenes documentary and other interesting features.

Doc, You Sucker:
Feature Documentary details the initial elements that brought this movie together.  Instead of waiting for funding from a prior release, director Michael J. Heagle wanted to work on a cheap project that involved four soviet camouflage uniforms purchased at a thrift shop.  The original three to four weekend shoot dragged on longer than expected as script changes were made during production.  Fortunately, one of those changes included adding the Italian western flair that Planetfall needed.

Fan of Style:
Designing Planetfall describes the efforts involved to create the amazing futuristic weapons and devices.  While learning highly technical terminology, like Greeblies and Nurnies, you’ll see items kludged together with pipes and tentpoles creating high-tech parts.  This feature is definitely for the inner geek in all of us.

“If you couldn’t make people laugh… cry… emotionally feel something, then you have missed the point of making a movie”
Ted V. Mikels

A Few Scenes More: Deleted Scenes contains eight extra scenes, a few of which extends Lux Antigone’s background as a Machinata.  My Name is Still Gianni is a slight humorous account of the “imaginary” Italian director for this film.  Corpse Grinding: Interview with Ted V. Mikels is a romp though his studio as he reminisces about his sudo-horror films of the past.

Michael Heagle, negotiated a deal allowing him to shoot at a historical landmark. Once Upon a Time in the Mill is a serious travel Documentary made as compensation.  Along the same vein, Discovering Rosemount Ruin attempts and fails to be funny, and isn’t worth mentioning.

Commentary: Producer Michael Heagle informs listeners of the special effects, the effort involved in this “simple” project, work that was outsourced, and how the original director abandoned the project before completion.  Michael Heagle finds himself in the background of other commentary tracks as well.  Commentary: Actors Heidi Fellner & Snype Myers talk about professional acting.  Commentary: Actors Leitha Matz & Troy La Faye has the other lead female and the co-producer wax on about the props, how the original script was G rated, and the space potatoes.  Leitha Matz banter was the most humorous, while Michael Heagle was the most informative – for good reason.

Favorite male Performances include Charles Hubble as Lieutenant Jerik and Alan Struthers as Gorton “Ugly”.  Both female leads, Heidi Fellner and Leitha Matz are more than capable for their roles as unyielding females.  Big names like John Levene and Ted V. Mikels add to the production of this film.

The differences between the surround sound audio track and stereo are superficial at best.  At times, the background music at time thunders over the dialog, thank goodness for the high quality subtitles.  Shot in low-consumer mini-DVD using prosumer GL-1 and XL-1, post production filters made vast improvements of the visuals of Planetfall making it more than watchable.  Even with these faults, Planetfall holds up better than most Sci-Fi Channel Features.  The menu animations for Planetfall are advanced, on par with professional DVD releases.

Planetfall, the Sci-Fi western with a touch of comic relief has dialog that’s widely palatable and has lots to offer for all audiences.  DVD Collectors looking for special features with every release need not look any further.  General audiences will enjoy the deleted scenes.  Although I’d be hard pressed to nail Planetfall as a cult film, I recommend Planetfall, quirks and all.

For more information about Planetfall and other titles released by Heretic films visit their website.

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