Mark Polonia may have beaten them to the punch with Dune World, but The Asylum are here and ready to cash in on Denis Villeneuve’s epic with Planet Dune. It also sets up a battle of the mockbusters. Which one of these knock-offs rips Dune off the best, and the viewer the least?
Astrid (Emily Killian, Meteor Moon, 9 Ways to Hell) is the top prospect among the pilot trainees. Or would be if she didn’t have a problem following orders. After choosing to save lives rather than follow orders from her superior Chase (Sean Young, Blade Runner, Dune) she finds herself in charge of a crew in a prison unit, Rebecca (Cherish Holland, Monster Hunters), Brad (Manny Zaldivar, Adventures of Aladin) and Ronnie (Anna Telfer, Aquarium of the Dead).
Her first mission is to rescue a freighter stranded on planet Dune. Which as you might guess from the name is a desert world. And is infested with giant worms.
Planet Dune has not only two writers Lauren Pritchard and Joe Roche who also co-wrote Robotapocalypse, but it also has two directors Glenn Campbell (Adventures of Aladin) and Tammy Klein. Sadly that didn’t make it twice as good as other films from The Asylum, but at least it’s somewhere in the vicinity of watchable, unlike some of their other films.
Wisely, and unsurprisingly, Planet Dune dispenses with all of Dune’s more mystical elements and concentrates on the sandworms. Combined with a subplot involving the salvage rights to the freighter the result is something like Tremors in outer space. Or the Outer Limits episode The Invisible Enemy with marginally better effects. And I do mean marginally better. Everything from the CGI worms to the green screen work is subpar. At times, such as the sandworm riding scene, laughably so. But nobody’s expecting much better from The Asylum are they?
There’s just enough action in Planet Dune to keep boredom away, but nothing to actually make it noteworthy. It lacks the imagination of Jungle Run or the faster pace of Robotapocalypse and just sort of wanders from point A to point B without any energy or even a sense of danger. We find out very early in the film that despite their size, the worms aren’t that hard to kill and they take a surprisingly small toll on the film’s cast.
As a result, Planet Dune is something you can put on as background noise or when you can’t pay full attention. You can miss huge chunks of the film and still not lose track of the plot. And it’s certainly better than Dune World, not that that really says much.
Planet Dune is available on assorted Digital platforms, you can check the Asylum’s Facebook page for more information.