Starship: Apocalypse (2014)
“Empires Fall. Heroes Rise”
Starship Apocalypse (2014)
Director: Neil Johnson
Cast: Darren Jacobs, Emii, Brooke Lewis
Synopsis: The Overseer, Ruler of the Federation, wants to enslave the rebellious worlds with an ancient alien nano-virus that turns humans into slaves. John Worthy and his new Starship, Deliverance stands between the Earth and the coming storm.
Despite providing its audience with a potted history of earlier events, Starlight Apocalypse, Neil Johnson’s sequel to Starship Rising, relies heavily on audience familiarity with the first movie. Unfortunately, this cursory summing up at the start of the movie is more likely to confuse newcomers than inform them, and is symptomatic of Johnson’s weaknesses as a storyteller. He’s clearly gone for an epic feel – in interviews he cites Dune as a major influence – but nothing is more likely to cast an unforgiving light on a writer’s shortcomings than the complexity of an epic, multi-stranded storyline.
Having hurriedly provided that cursory outline, Johnson resumes his saga with energetic enthusiasm, but the plot quickly becomes incomprehensible. Characters come and go, whirlwind visits are paid to innumerable planetary locations, people shout at one another with patently fake urgency, and key events take place off-screen; eventually it looks as though the plot will revolve around the development of a virus by The Overseer which turns humans into unquestioningly compliant slaves to his and his acolyte’s will. First victim is the athletic Marta (Lynn Ayala) whose complete acquiescence to the demands of the evil Czarina (Rajia Baroudi) and her son Seethus (Breck Gallini) is the stuff of juvenile fantasy. But before this strand can become properly embedded, Johnson’s off again, exploring some other corner of a galaxy that makes perfect sense in his mind, but leaves the rest of us scratching our heads.
The really strange thing about Starship: Apocalypse is how good the effects are for a low-budget movie that is so poor in almost every other department. While the CGI doesn’t match the quality of your typical Hollywood blockbuster, it’s arguably of a standard good enough for TV. Given Johnson’s obvious talent in this area of filmmaking, he would benefit immeasurably from teaming up with a talented screenwriter who could give shape and structure to his ambitious ideas.