Plot: Harry Trent (Matt Mitler) is a thief who finds himself in a tight spot when he tries to steal some military secrets, as he scores a top secret weapon design, but the space vessel he boosts breaks down on him. This leaves him stranded in space for a few years and when he finally returns, he discovers the planet has been invaded and violent aliens now have most of the power. But pockets of human resistance remain active, one of which is where Harry lands when he runs into Dana (Denise Coward), a beautiful and skilled rebel warrior. Now Harry is seen as some kind of new hope, since he is a recent arrival and has access to those military secrets he shoplifted. He might not be a hero in most ways, but can Harry work with the resistance to fight back and take the planet from the invading alien hordes?
Entertainment Value: Battle for the Lost Planet might be super low budget, but it is also super ambitious and while limited in resources, Brett Piper has crafted a sci/fi epic that charm, scope, and some hilarious moments. The narrative is familiar, but the b movie approach helps it fresh in most instances, though the movie is keen to lean on genre tropes often. I appreciated that despite the low budget, Piper doesn’t try to scale down his movie to fit those limitations and while he isn’t able to craft a high end masterpiece, this much more ambitious than most indie sci/fi productions. So in the times when Battle for the Lost Planet comes off as hokey or a little dull, I can forgive those issues, as at least the movie tries to deliver on the sci/fi thrills. This includes some interesting creatures, brought to life with better than expected practical effects work that is a throwback to the days of Ray Harryhausen’s brand of cinema magic. The makeup work looks cheap at times, but again, the effort and passion is so obvious in this one, you can’t help but admire how much was pulled off here.
The cast of Battle for the Lost Planet didn’t like drown in awards for technical mastery, but I think the performances are solid and at worst, fun to watch. I think the acting is better than most might expect, as the cast brings energy and enthusiasm, which helps the material a lot. I think we have all seen countless low budget films where cash was spent to bring in a known talent, who then sleepwalked or put no effort into their work, so it is nice to see this cast show some spark, despite the lack of star power. Matt Mitler has the lead and embraces the b movie vibes, while still pulling a sincere turn, so he doesn’t just go over the top nonstop. The movie centers on his character, so he had a lot of the film on his shoulders, but he comes through quite well. He has a quirky, energetic presence that serves the movie and then some. Denise Coward is also memorable as the bad ass warrior, while the cast also includes Joe Gentissi, Bill MacGlaughlin, and Helence Michele Martin.
The Disc: The movie hits Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome in a new 2k scan that easily surpassed my expectations and as usual, the label delivers what is likely the best and definitive treatment. The image is clean and the natural grain is intact, though the 16mm limitations are evident at times. But that is not due to the this treatment, as the movie looks fantastic and again, I simply can’t imagine how Battle for the Lost Planet could look better than this. The extras include an insightful interview with Brett Piper that fans will greatly appreciate, as well as Piper’s brief introduction. This release also includes Mutant War, the sequel to this film.