After an experimental bio-nerve gas is accidentally released at a remote U.S. military base in Texas, those exposed to the gas turn into flesh-eating, mutating zombies out to kill. An assortment of various people who include stripper Cherry, her shady mechanic ex-boyfriend Wray, a strong-willed doctor, the local sheriff, and an assortment of various people must join forces to survive the night as the so-called "sickos" threaten to take over the whole town and the world.
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
. Starring: Rose McGowan
, Freddy Rodríguez
, Josh Brolin
, Marley Shelton
, Jeff Fahey
, Michael Biehn
, Rebel Rodriguez
, Bruce Willis
, Naveen Andrews
, Julio Oscar Mechoso
, Nicky Katt
, Hung Nguyen
. Music by: Robert Rodriguez
It's movies like this that have convinced me that American cinema is far from occupying the same entertainment value as other foreign industries. Anyone with any taste in film already knows that American art-house, horror, and romance movies suck to high heaven, leaving other countries to make virtually all significant contributions to those genres. I figured that if Hollywood can do anything well, it must be no-brain actioners. As luck would have it, I was in the mood for some over-the-top actionhorror with a smoking hot stripper sporting a leg-cannon and blowing away dozens of baddies. "Planet Terror" looked to be the perfect film. There's only one little problem: All the good parts are in the trailer.
That's not necessarily bad if you get a lot MORE of it when you actually see the movie, but in the case of "Planet Terror" there's almost nothing worth seeing outside of the trailer itself. For example, in the trailer you see Rose McGowan (with her machine gun) spin on the ground, jump high in the air, shoot a rocket, blow up a truck, and spin out of the way. The movie itself has those moments, but the only additional contribution McGowan has are a few extra sprays of bullets. That's it. With regards to everyone else, there's practically no action for the first 90 minutes of this movie. What little there is lasts for mere seconds. (The truck scene was decent and nicely gory though.) Near the end, we finally get to see Rose McGowan sport that machine gun, but the whole thing is over in 2 measly minutes.
I'm still annoyed that the machine gun leg got so little screen time. The filmmakers missed a golden opportunity to create one of the most insane action scenes ever made. It's almost like they just got lazy and said, "Let's film just enough to make the trailer look sweet." In reality the finale is much too tame for its own good. And for goodness sakes, could you at least make it longer than 2 minutes! Listen, have someone with a brain coordinate an action scene and have Rose do all sorts of crazy stuff with her machine gun for about 6 minutes. Is that so difficult to understand? I'm personally perplexed at how they can screw this up. Somehow, they did.
Bad acting, a poor screenplay, and undeveloped characters can be overlooked if there's enough wild action and horror to keep things moving. Such is not the case here. There's way too much time spent on stupidity and not enough time on the action and horror. There's one scene where a zombie walks up to a doctor, pops a big zit onto his face, then walks away. I'm sorry, but that's just really, really stupid. There's another scene where a woman breaks her wrist while attempting to open her car door. Again really, really stupid. Even when there's a good moment (like a wooden spike through the eye), it's followed by something lame (a penis melting onto the ground).
Another big negative was the absence of a formidable antagonist. First they're fighting zombies, but that whole conflict is scrapped completely when they begin fighting some pseudo-mutant army dudes. The scriptwriter should have included some threatening bad guys, whether it be an increase in the number of zombies or perhaps a more intimidating mutant of some sort. The action is just too safe. The zombies (or army dudes) stand in the distance while the protagonists gun them down with heavy artillery. That's about it. A formidable antagonist would have made things much more interesting and exciting.
In the end, you basically get a few minutes of juicy insanity that is smothered by 90+ minutes of mediocrity. There's simply no way this movie will satiate the needs of those with even a marginal experience watching foreign movies. I can't help but roll my eyes when I hear someone say, "Man, Smoking Aces was crazy!" or "Planet Terror was nuts!" when they refuse to watch foreign movies because they're too lazy to read subtitles. If they did watch some foreign titles, they'd notice that what Hollywood markets as extreme is really only playground material in countries like Japan. For example, the stripper assassin in "Fudoh: The New Generation" (1996) is so much more convincing than the one in "Planet Terror", and the gatling gun protagonist in "The Machine Girl" (2008) got to show her goods for a far longer period of time than Rose McGowan did in this movie, which is nothing more than a commercialistic fluff piece made to suit the masses who like everything safe and cozy while deluding themselves into thinking they're watching something "crazy."
Don't even bother watching "Planet Terror" because you'll get more entertainment by watching the trailer over and over again. Better yet, go watch "The Machine Girl." It's twice as good and the trailer for that movie only represents the tip of the iceberg because there is a ton of bloodletting that you don't see in the preview. You'll get a lot more exposure to mind-numbing insanity that way.
Review by ebossert from the Internet Movie Database.