Monday, 3 May 2010

Monster Bugs Abound

Star Runners

‘‘We’re gonna need a lotta ammo’’
Connor Trinneer, aka Commander Trip Tucker III from Star Trek Enterprise, goes boldly into un-chartered space and ends up on a planet overrun with oversized mutant bugs. Phasers set to stun wont get the job done here, it’s heavy assed artillery and size fifty boots required to squash these ‘B’ movie beasties.

Trinneer is Tycho ‘Ty’ Johns, a galactic swashbuckling smuggler, who along with friend and fellow likeable rogue Lei Chen (James Kyson-Lee, perhaps best known for his role as Ando in the hit TV show Heroes), stay under the radar of the totalitarian planetary authorities. They wheel and deal to survive, helping those who need it along the way, avoiding conflict but more than able to stand their ground in a tight situation.
Their bodacious bravado is brought to a halt when Universal Police principal Bishop, an autocratic overlord with overtures of Darth Vader without James Earl Jones’ voice, reins in their space craft by deploying an intricate stinger trap. Cornered by a measurable fleet of Universal Police space ships in a well planned pincher movement Ty and Lei Chan have no choice but to give themselves up. They have been an irritant to Bishop for some time, but he has stretched his resources at this time to ensnare his nemesis in order to put his particular skills to use for his own nefarious gain !.

Bishop offers Ty and his cohort a way out of doing hard time penal by getting them to acquire a very special cargo of a containment crate. They are to locate and retrieve the crate, not open it, and return to Bishop as a priority. They have no choice but to accept his terms. Bishop of course ensures that the two men and their craft are well tagged in order to keep tabs on them, should they be foolish enough to make a run for it.
Ty calls upon his underground contacts for information about the ‘crate’ and any unusual activity surrounding what is clearly a hot item. Its not long before he and Lei Chan locate their commission, and of course all of the extra baggage that comes with it. Ignoring the rule of do not open the crate Tycho Johns and Lei Chan are soon baby sitting a female brought out of frozen animation. This is no ordinary young woman of course, as she just so happens to be the only living survivor of a planets extinct populace. An entire race wiped out in experimental genocide by an intent full Bishop, a couple of decades earlier.
Released from her suspended state, and coming to terms with her surroundings as well as to her two emancipators, the anxious young woman reveals her identity as Asta. It is soon clear that she is no ordinary human, but one imbued with extraordinary abilities. She is able to harness her inner strength to generate an energy powerful enough to expel from her very being, and hone as a directional weapon of pure energy with directional force. An exceptional being and a highly prized asset to interested parties aware of her existence. Those interested parties being Bishop and the rebel forces, and with Pandora’s ‘crate’ now opened Ty and Lei Chan make a desperate space flight for freedom. They board a passenger flight, but are soon fired upon and the captain of the ship is killed. Time for Tycho Johns to take the helm !.
Ty’s vaunted skill as a pilot affords him, Chan, and their new found super chick passenger Asta, a head start but one that is doomed to eventual failure due to the overwhelming class of spacecraft pursuing them. Ty takes a great risk to gain further advantage and hit’s the hyper space jump button in un-chartered space. What waits on the other side of the jump is a freefall into the gravitational pull of a mysterious planet. Surviving the crash Ty and companions, along with a handful of fellow passengers, gather themselves and head towards a complex on the horizon. As they seek out shelter, behind them the bodies of those who did not survive the crash become food for the planets non human inhabitants !.
Hold back the grin of anticipation, call upon the Sci Fi hand book of many a great TV series, and sign up to the Starship Troopers (1997) ethos of entomology, ‘cause its time for Gunfight At The Big Bug Corral. Yes indeedy, good old Connor Trineer didn’t spend all that time on the Enterprise dreaming of being a star blazing buccaneering hero to turn down the opportunity to kick alien butt, head on here. Within the under belly of the complex its off world experimental central and natures itty bitty bugs have become monstrous atrocities, the size of small animals, but un-reliant on humans to hand feed them but rather feeding upon them !. These critters are fast, furious and nifty at removing human heads with their over sized pincers and incisors. Keep your eyes peeled and whatever you do don’t look up as these scuttling beasties are like Spider Man without the costume. They tear through the lower end credit cast like Freddy Krueger frantically wet wiping after a spicy Mexican. This is a meal deal that the monstrous munchers don’t get too often, with visitors at a premium.
Bug busting aid comes in the form of pursuing rebels, forming an uneasy alliance with team Tycho against the leggy legion of creatures. Big guns and bullish bravado bleed out as frequently as the mounting corpses, with Ty laying down the law with the aptly phrased dialogue, ‘‘You point a gun at me again, bugs will be the least of your problems’’. Freedom fighters, fortune seekers, pernicious profiteers, gung ho savants and carnivorous bugs collide in a glorious SyFy Channel showdown. It’s a big step up from the usual run of the mill fare churned out for TV. The effects are good and the bugs are very well done. There’s ample splurges of blood letting and the lead cast are giving their all in what clearly was a fun production to turn up for work on. In collaboration with UFO (Unified Film Organisation) the Sci Fi Channel has delivered a bug blast of movie enjoyment. Good to see UFO head honcho Phillip J. Roth amongst the roster as one of the films producers. He has been delivering solid entertainment value in the Action / Sci Fi genres for many accomplished years now and Star Runners is testament to that.
Seek this one out then fellow Sci Fi citizens for a bug fest frenzy that’s out of this world.

Movie Rating: 6/10
Review: Paul Cooke / Source SyFy Channel
Star Runners (2009)
Director Mat King
With Connor Trinneer, James Kyson-Lee,
Toni Trucks, Aja Evans,
Velizar Beniv & Michael Culkin

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