Friday, January 25, 2019

War of the Planets

War of the Planets (aka Cosmos: War of the Planets aka Anno zero - Guerra nello spazio)
Alfonso Brescia

After a mysterious explosion that turns out to be an image from the past and has nothing to do with anything, brash Captain Layton (John Richardson) smacks a fellow officer because he doesn’t like being bossed around by a computer named Wiz. Command scolds Layton, but soon he is sent to explore an unstable planet. After a fight with some UFOs, the ship and its crew land on the planet and wander around. There they find a race of green humanoids who live in fear of a killer computer and a giant robot. Planets, people, and computers all get blown-up and then everything ends.

Hot off the massive success of Star Wars (1977), Alfonso Brescia threw together a series of cheap science-fiction films that borrowed a few elements from it and other popular SF films.. These films reused plots, actors, sets, and costumes. The titles were largely interchangeable, War of the PlanetsWar of the Robots (1978), Battle of the Stars (1978), Star Odyssey (1979), and The Beast in Space (1980) or the method I use as I struggle to remember which one is which: The one with the green guy, The one with the gold guys, The one that wasn’t dubbed into English, The one with the robot suicide pact, and The one with the robot satyr that has a giant boner. War of the Planets is probably my favorite of the lot because it is the weirdest which is no easy feat considering the competition.

"I'm here to kick Santy Claus' ass."
Watching War of the Planets feels like being home from school with the flu while slipping in and out of consciousness during simultaneous viewings of Star Wars and Star Trek. It barely makes sense, the colors are a little nausea-inducing, but its entertaining when things come into focus. There is an air of mystery that pervades the whole thing and it tosses in just a hint of horror too. My favorite science-fiction movies make space at least a little bit scary, and War of the Planets does just that, whether it be dying in the vacuum of space or getting your head crushed by a giant robot.

There is also plenty of head-scratchingly funny things too. The crew's spaceship has a machine for couples to have sex in called the Cosmic Love and it comes complete with a transparent Death Star in the middle. The Earth uses a supercomputer called Wiz (make your own joke here), and possibly my favorite moment comes when Wiz predicts the best way to destroy the evil supercomputer will be a giant red button somewhere.

"I am the Atomic Powered Deathbot. Give my worst wishes to everybody!"
War of the Planets does have some groovy analog synth music and about 3 seconds of a song called ‘Here in Space.’ All of which just adds to its very strange atmosphere.

War of Planets has about a hundred stolen ideas and doesn’t seem very concerned about joining them into a coherent narrative. That is both its strength and its main flaw. Despite this it manages to be silly surreal adventure. Check it out... Earthling.

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