In approaching a SyFy channel original creature feature, there are only so many resultant options available in terms of entertainment value: (1) The movie can be unrelentingly and painfully bad, (2) it can be so delightfully horrendous that it's camp nirvana, or (3) it can be genuinely frightening or effective. Faithful fans of the network's slate of films will realize that most fall within the first category while only a miniscule few hit that third category. No, as a true SyFy fan, I generally hope for that second classification--cheesy goodness that makes bad movie magic! "Ferocious Planet" is a film that actually blurs the line a bit and the results are surprisingly solid. Strong creature conception and execution distinguish this rather silly tale which retains many amusingly bad moments without ever veering all the way into camp. And this semi-serious tone amidst the lunacy actually works. Mind you, I'm still rating this 4-stars adjusted on the bad movie scale--but if you seek out this type of goofy low budget entertainment, this Planet might be worth a look.
The film jumps off right away as a group of Washington bigwigs (led with robust gusto by John Rhys-Davies) visiting a scientific lab to witness the most important experiment of all time! After two seconds of explanatory junk science mumbo jumbo, a fusion generator malfunctions sending the cast into an alternate dimension. Don't you hate it when that happens? The new world looks surprisingly like a small stretch of forest (no big budget sets here), but the group finds out they are not alone. A dinosaur type inhabitant provides some challenges to our unlikely travelers and luckily there are plenty of extraneous cast members for it to systematically destroy. What the film saved in location expenses, it makes up with pretty good creature effects (both a baby and it's adult counterparts) and killing mayhem. The fusion reactor needs repair in order to return home and, of course, some of the humans prove to be their own worst enemies.
Many people will undoubtedly be tuning in to this epic to check our Stargate alum Joe Flanigan return to his SyFy roots. As a disgraced colonel, he displays likable moxie. Despite limited character development, most of the actors are fully engaged in their rather thinly drawn stereotypes. In truth, as the film began, I thought we were headed for disaster. The script and plotting are so thin and familiar. But the longer the movie progressed and the more I gave in to the silliness--the more it grew on me. There is a twist ending that I saw coming from a mile away (about 30 minutes into the picture), but I still enjoyed its reveal. There is nothing especially unique in the film's story--we've seen it all before--but there is just enough tenseness, just enough splatter, and just enough humor to keep things interesting. I doubt that I'd sit through this film several more times--but if you like this sort of thing, you can certainly do worse! KGHarris, 4/11.