Note: Throughout the month of May I will be watching Mockbusters, those low-budget movies which are made purely to cash in on a recent successful blockbuster. I call this May-de to be Mocked!
Princess of Mars (2009)
Director: Mark Atkins
Starring: Antonio Sabato jr, Traci Lords, Chacko Vadaketh
Plot: A special ops sniper (Sabato jr) in Afghanistan is double-crossed and ends up close to death. His superiors use some scifi mumbo-jumbo to send him to a distant planet called Mars-something, where he becomes involved in the ongoing battle between humanoids (who control the machine making the planet liveable) and monster-looking sand people. He falls in love with the Princess of Mars (Lords) and fights to overcome her enemies.
This is a rare movie that cashes in on two blockbusters. It was originally marketed as "The classic story that inspired James Cameron's Avatar", and it then piggybacked on the 2012 release of John Carter, with which it shares an Edgar Rice Burroughs story as source material.
First an admission: I enjoy John Carter. I think it's a fun, pulp scifi movie that is unfairly maligned by many. With that out of the way, how did I enjoy this, another offering by The Asylum? The answer to that is, not very much.
The special effects are basic but passable and there's plenty of action to keep things ticking along (I particularly liked the fights with giant mutant spiders), but what really brings it all down is the acting. I wish I could say the acting is so bad that it makes this movie cheesy good fun, but I can't. It's not good, it's not bad, it's just there. And that's a problem when the whole story is built around a hero doing all sorts of swashbuckling, pulpy stuff. That hero needs to be charismatic, and soap star Antonio Sabato jr has all of the charisma of a desk lamp. Former porn star Traci Lords looks good for her age, but acting isn't her strong point - she just looks bored for most of the movie.
If you're bored and this is showing on TV or you've watched everything else on Netflix, maybe you might want to check this one out. Otherwise, it's definitely one you can skip.
We're only part-way through May, but I'm not sure if I can keep watching mockbusters produced by The Asylum. I need to find others, because watching Paranormal Entity and Princess of Mars on the same night has sapped the life out of me.