An expedition on a remote, medieval-like planet and finds itself under attack by deadly prehistoric raptors. With a radiation storm cutting off communication to their mother ship and preventing escape, the expedition must bed down in nearby castle and there they uncover evidence that the previous occupants of the planet were wiped out by these dinosaurs….and they’re next.
Ok so that plot summary is a bit all over the place but that’s the best I could do. One of the worst Sci-Fi Channel movies of recent memory (the atrocious Raptor Island) gets a sequel here with Planet Raptor – an unrelated movie about a bunch of killer raptors which might as well have gone it alone such is the lack of any sort of link to the original. Only this time the raptors aren’t prowling around on some remote Pacific island but they’re…..in outer space. Yes, space raptors! I guess the title should clue you in that you’ll be taken out of the Pacific but the realisation that this film really is set in space should provoke some sort of groans from the audience.
Like a lot of old school low budget films from Universal and Hammer, Planet Raptor feels like it was pieced together using leftovers from other films. The space ship and ‘futuristic’ elements have been discarded by some low budget science fiction drivel, the medieval village is the remnants of some historical drama, the guns and combat fatigues seem to have been left behind by a generic straight-to-video action flick and the alien survivor towards the end…well that suit could have been lifted from any number of 70s sci-fi TV series. And above all, Planet Raptor features a plot borrowed directly from Aliens about a group of expendable marines sent to a hostile world by a shady company in order to acquire living specimens as weapons, featuring self-sacrificing heroes who blow themselves up in the face of death and slimy scientists who think running off in the middle of a gunfight in the middle of a hostile planet filled with deadly creatures is a good idea (see Burke, Aliens). Anyone familiar with how that film pans out will be immediately at home here but it’s not the sort of place you want to stay very long.
The mechanical plot slowly coasts along, no doubt assuming you know exactly where the film is heading, and thus doesn’t feel the need to provide any sort of excitement or pace. From the opening shots of the expedition exploring the medieval village (the bizarre decision to include a castle for our heroes to hide inside is clearly more evidence of the ‘recycling’ from other films the studio no doubt made at the same time), to the first attack of the raptors, running through the entire film right until the finale, there’s literally no sense of direction. In between all of the highly-convenient circumstances which direct the plot towards its next aimless action sequence (Decide to leave the planet? Well what about that handy radiation storm that will prevent escape?), the film suffers from a general lack of interesting and well-developed characters. But when the script is content to feature raptors terrorising a group of humans in a medieval village on a remote planet in outer space, the script was never really high on the consideration list to begin with.
Planet Raptor wheels out a load of usual low budget suspects including Steven Bauer, Vanessa Angel and Peter Jason as well as Sam Raimi’s acting brother, Ted. Both Bauer and Jason were in the original film and have been brought back as totally unrelated characters. Jason at least shows a bit of spark in his role as the tough-talking gung-ho sergeant who is as handy with a wisecrack as he is a shotgun. But the secondary characters are afterthoughts (some aren’t even credited!) and even the main characters are little more than talking clichés. Raimi, in particular, must have been reading up on the pantomime playbook on how to look and act as a bad guy, constantly shifting his eyes to the side, frowning a lot and generally trying to look as sinister as possible.
But forget these characters. We’re here for the raptors, right? Well they alternate between CGI rubbish and a reasonably-decent puppet-animatronic head. This looks alright and is used effectively from time-to-time to peek around corners but there’s clearly no body to it as you never see it below the neck. Instead the CGI counterparts take the brunt of the flak and they have every right to warrant it. They look purple, have about two or three different frames of animation and the same shots are used repeatedly throughout. A raptor will be killed in one scene. The camera will flash to the actors. Then back to another approaching raptor and low and behold, there is no body on the floor of the previous victim. At one point the film even borrows a few shots from the previous film of what looks like a T-Rex and the characters fail to spot the difference despite this dinosaur being significantly larger in size and able to scoop up a man into its mouth with ease. It’s not the only glaring error with the film but to continually rip it to shreds is pointless.
Stay tuned for the pre-end credits blooper reel which is arguably the most entertaining thing about Planet Raptor (quite funny actually), a low budget mess which seems to have been designed purely from the discarded leftover sets and props from other films. If only half as much fun had gone into the film then Planet Raptor wouldn’t have ended up the outlandish pile of low budget nonsense that it is.