Written & Directed by: #LancePolland
Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
In Lance Polland’s Another Plan from Outer Space, in the year 2024 when civilization has not only sent people to Mars but has indeed began to flourish on it, five astronauts find themselves and their ship falling out of the cosmos, crash landing in some unknown location with nothing but desert seemingly around them. Led by Captain Jackson (Sell), the team begin gathering what they can in an attempt to summon rescue, but soon realise they have a tough fight for survival on their hands from the elements and more.
It might be fair to say that Polland’s film does not exactly start as it means to go on. Another Plan from Outer Space begins by alluding to the sentiment that mankind’s mission it seems (in the US at least) has always been to try and conquer space, something he could be right about as the film opens with a number of real-life addresses on the matter from presidents both past and unfortunately present. But these are themes that Polland merely flirts with, a small titbit for you to ponder as Polland, rather than trying to wax lyrical about the wonders of space and the aspirations of astronauts, instead takes us into a different kind of space adventure via an unexpected but perhaps more interesting, stripped back survival drama, one that doesn’t necessarily go the way one might expect as we watch this initially airlock tight crew begin to fall apart.
A great deal of what makes this film a success is a clear and inspired level of ingenuity and working with that you have. Substantial budget restrictions are evident throughout, settings sparse and re-used often. But this is a film that knows how to get the most out of its resources, props and costumes are very simple yes but never laughable. In fact, that whole ethos is a big part of what gives this film its unavoidable charm, helped by its warm and fuzzy old-school sci-fi vibes that fans of classics such as Lost in Space and Star Trek will eat up. The black and white aesthetic is of course an obvious component to point to in that regard as well, but it all comes together remarkably well when combined with an ever familiar theremin-heavy backing score and those simple yet effective practical effects.
Polland also takes a great deal of care and time in establishing his world, his characters and their dynamics, the first third or nearly half of the film being something more of a hangout movie peppered with a few sci-fi elements before moving more in that direction. It takes a moment to perhaps warm to our ensemble as well, some maybe even a couple more but it’s a decent overall cast performance that wins you over in the end. This slow-burn style could be something that may be the catalyst for disinterest among some more impatient viewers but many more should appreciate that this groundwork is partly the reason the film's final and strongest act pays off as much it does.
While the film might be easily dismissed by a handful for its minimalistic and measured approach, Another Plan from Outer Space is a film that aims for the stars and thanks to some clever ingenuity and increasingly palpable tension, manages to get there with enough fuel left over for to go even further if it wants.
Another Plan from Outer Space is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video
Watch the trailer here: