Planetquake (2024) Review
Having failed to wipe out mankind with a Doomsday Meteor, The Asylum is trying again with Planetquake. This time out, an attempt to retrieve a World War II nuke from a ship at the bottom of the Mariana Trench ends in disaster when the bottom falls out of the trench and the bomb is triggered by the fall.
This triggers massive earthquakes and tsunamis on both sides of the Pacific. Seattle is hit hard, and that’s where Dr. Anderson (Erica Duke, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, Bullet Train Down) is working at the National Earthquake Information Center along with her colleague Peter Houston (Phillip Andre Botello, All Jacked Up and Full of Worms, Sunset on the River Styx). They come through fine, but Dr. Anderson’s daughter Sophie (Erin Gall) is stuck on a plane circling the city.
As if that wasn’t enough, the head of the NSA, General West (Michael Paré, Wanted Man, The Wild Man: Skunk Ape) gives an ultimatum to find her brother Dresden (Doug Jeffery, Indecent Behavior III, Losing Control) within three days. He’s the only person who knows how to prevent these quakes from spreading and ripping the planet apart. But after he left the NSA, he vanished off the grid. And she knows as much as they do about where he might be.
Making his feature debut after a short and a music video, writer/director Monroe Robertson doesn’t waste any time getting things set up. Unfortunately, he almost immediately undercuts what should have been a major subplot by having Dresden just show up on his own and almost as soon as his sister is off the phone.
From there, Planetquake’s plot devolves into an attempt to bring an orbital weapons platform, which has been sitting unused and unnoticed since Regan was President, to life and use its lasers to somehow relieve the pressure on the tectonic plates and stop the quakes. The problem is, it’s totally untested, since Dresden took the only copies of the arming codes when he left and the government just let it sit there rather than track him down. That sounds even less believable than planet wide earthquakes, but this is a film from The Asylum, so it’s to be expected.
And since Planetquake is an Asylum film, we can also expect a lot of scenes where the leads stare at screens and type furiously on keyboards while we hear about the destruction they don’t have the budget to show. We do get an occasional shot of CGI waves crashing into cities and a few falling buildings, but that’s it.
Thanks to Sophie’s father (Anthony Jensen, Attack on Titan, The Gallows Act II) searching for her, we see a mix of stock disaster footage and some footage that looks like it was shot on a demolition site. But that loses its effect due to an editing goof, we see the person the emergency crew was pulling from the rubble early in the film, trapped under it later in the film.
Even for an Asylum film, Planetquake is lacking in action. The leads spend most of the film in an underground bunker that shakes occasionally, and that’s about as tense as it gets. Even the few outdoor scenes in what is supposed to be a quake decimated Seattle are devoid of threat. After finding the road to the bunker impassible, our heroes simply walk to their destination. The film doesn’t even bother to show the trip to the oil rig where the climax takes place.
To Robertson’s credit, the dialogue is a bit better than usual for one of these films, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s way too much of it. If I wanted to spend eighty-four minutes watching people talk, I’d rent a drama. And, adding insult to injury, the few effects we do get are weak. There’s a horrible shot of a plane making a hard landing, and the tsunami scenes end as the waves reach shore, so we don’t see any destruction.
The result is a distinctly dull film that could, with a little bit of effort and a little more money, have been much better It still wouldn’t have been earthshaking, but it would at least have been enjoyable. Instead, even The Asylum’s dedicated fans will find it hard to say anything good about Planetquake.
The Asylum released Planetquake in a handful of theatres at the end of January. It’s now available on various Digital Platforms.