Some time in the future Tony (Juan Antonio Devoto, Dead Badge, First Law) flies out into the desert looking for something known as The Prototype. Once he locates it and digs it up it turns out to be Garrett Brown (Mark Vasconcellos, Aliens from Uranus, Lady Belladonna’s Night Shades).
He’s been buried in a life sustaining pod for over three hundred years, even sleeping through a nuclear war. He’s just managing to get a grip on this, and the fact that Tony is long dead and this his clone when aliens turn up and start shooting at them which causes Garrett to have flashbacks. That’s all in The Prototype’s first five minutes.
Director Marcelo Grion and his co-writers Stephen Brown and Stephen Karandy (Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero) load the first act of The Prototype, not to be confused with Prototype, with enough odd goings-on to leave anyone confused. Nuclear war, aliens, a government agency that investigates false messiahs, double-crosses and a strange glowing liquid that gives the user superpowers.
The film moves back and forth between the future where Tony and Hines (Ken Belsky, Venus Envy, Blondes Have More Guns) are trying to restore Garrett’s memory and the present where we see what he remembers. And that has to do with aliens trying to turn humans into super soldiers to fight their wars for them and another race of aliens trying to stop them, not to help Earth of course, but to win the war. Either way, we’re collateral damage.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case with micro-budget science fiction much of this is told to us rather than shown to us. And since the aliens all have weird names trying to remember who’s who started to give me a headache. It also means The Prototype has a lot of talk and not a lot in the way of special effects. We do get a fair number of fights and gunplay but the fight choreography is fairly typical low-budget punch and block stuff.
The effects we do get are uneven in quality. A lot of the alien craft are so well done that it’s hard to tell if they’re miniatures or CGI. However, they’re so poorly composited into the scene that it’s obvious they’re an effect. The same is true of several scenes where the actors are obviously performing in front of a green screen.
This is especially true in the film’s final act which takes place in an ancient Egyptian styled palace ruled by Queen Ilona (Victoria De Mare, The 27 Club, Hanukkah). Between the setting and the obvious green screening, I almost expected to see one of Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion creatures appear. Grion would have been better off spending his budget on fewer effects scenes done better but, like so many other filmmakers before him, the “more is better” bug seems to have bit him hard.
The Prototype is a good example of what science fiction was like pre-Star Wars, both in plot and effects. Older audiences may find it somewhat nostalgic, and may also notice Theresa Tilly from the original Evil Dead in a small role. Other audiences may find it a bit too low-budget and amateurish, but It’s still better than similar films like The Alpha Code or most of what comes from The Asylum. So if you can sit through them, consider giving The Prototype a chance.
The Prototype will get a limited theatrical release in the director’s home state of Arizona via Harkins Theatres starting February 25th. Vision Films will release it to VOD in the US and Canada on March 8th. You can check the director’s Facebook page for more details.