Action Spotlight: Interstellar Civil War
HorrorHound Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio is a truly unique experience. Fans packed the halls of the Sharonville Convention Center, their faces dripping with blood freshly sprayed from a bright green squirt bottle, waiting in lines to get their favorite Walking Dead cast members autograph or the elusive Tom Waters selfie. Unlike the majority of cons that I’ve been to in the past, you’re less likely to gag from the smell of body odor at HorrorHound but are far more likely to gag at the site of someone’s intestines dangling on the ground. For fans of the horror genre, it can’t be beaten.
Myself, I do like a good scare every now and then. I won’t be standing in line for most horror flicks or even spending my hard-earned money on many of the Blu-rays but if directors like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson have taught us anything, it’s that even a small budget can look kickass with the right amount of fake blood.
Having said all of this, my main purpose for going to HorrorHound over the weekend was to be in attendance for the World Premiere of Albert Pyun’s latest film, Interstellar Civil War. I slid into my favorite leather jacket (every action star needs one) hopped into my sweet Honda Civic, and headed south towards The Queen City to get myself some sci-fi action that I so desperately needed.
The gathered crowd in the room had a strange hush as Albert Pyun and the stars of Interstellar Civil War entered and moved to the front of the room. Most of the cast present had little experience in front of the camera but my keen eyes clearly differentiated the actors from the fans present by their lack of facial piercings, tattoos, or colorful hair. Albert Pyun and a few of the others were halted briefly after a man in the front row suddenly dropped to the ground, convulsing. Was I the only one who thought it was a part of the show? It wasn’t, and after a short EMT visit the man planted himself back in his seat, ready to watch the newest Pyun cyborg film.
Let’s first discuss the situation that led to the movie not being shown in its entirety. From what I could gather, an issue with a hard drive, coupled with the fact that director Albert Pyun has been suffering from dementia for quite some time, caused the premiere of the film to actually be a viewing of about 30-33 minutes of the beginning of the movie. The room was a mixture of confusion and sheer disappointment. A few apologies were given and they fired up the footage that we had and we were transported into a universe created by a legendary director.
I wish I could say that the film immediately exploded into the kind of action scenes that we’ve come to see from other projects featuring a similar storyline. Sometimes the best way to show that there is a serious rebellion is to show us the destruction it has caused. Think the opening of FOX’s Firefly or the awesome opening of Star Wars. But Interstellar Civil War opens with several screens worth of text, telling us all about the developing war between the “Imperial Empire” and the “Resistance”. There’s no doubt that there is a strong influence from Star Wars but that could pretty much be said about 88% of all science fiction in the past 40 years so that is in no way a negative. The biggest problem with the shortened premiere is that most of the footage shown was dialogue without the payoff of the action.
Laser escrima stick-fighting is the type of action I wanted to see and the first act of the film was very limited on showing us the full extent of what ICW had to offer. Another issue is that most of the on-location scenes appear to have been ones including the kind of stuff that I was hoping for so instead of seeing Brad Thornton and his Star Warfare Rangers blasting away at bad guys on a desert planet, we got three women sitting around a table talking.
Every movie needs to tell a story; to create an emotional attachment between the viewers and the people on screen. It’s obviously very important to let the audience in on what the hell is going on in this world that none of us are privy to. But a film that features six people shooting guns on the poster had more like one actual person shooting a gun in the first 30 minutes. I WANT SOME MORE ACTION PLEASE!
So the cast and crew solemnly walked to the front of the room after the preview; a sharp acknowledgement of their own disappointment of not being able to see the film in its entirety. There were some more apologies and then the microphone was passed around and the actors and producer Michael Su delivered some really heartfelt words about their director and it calmed me down a little. It was clear that no one in the room was aware of Albert Pyun’s condition or the amount of work that was put into the film like those that experienced it with him. I quickly pulled out my trusty notepad and began writing. In Bullet Points, of course:
- The Score: Constant collaborator of Pyun and composer Anthony Riparetti, laid a score on that sounded great with the effects of the galaxy behind it. At times, the hiccups of an unfinished film caused the music to be a little loud during the dialogue but I’m assuming all of that will be finished by the time this baby debuts.
- The Story: Who doesn’t love an epic showdown between a massive Empire and a lowly Rebel Alliance. The story is one that we’ve seen so many times that we didn’t need a bunch of text or dialogue to prepare us but I’m hoping that the last hour of the film gives us a more personal look at the effects of the war instead of those planning it in a room.
- Undisciplined Psychopaths: That is how the Star Warfare Rangers are described, and that is by their own government. Let’s hope that we get to see Brad Thornton and Co. take care of business with assault rifles, laser escrima sticks, or whatever pointy objects they might find along the way.
- Lady Gaga: A few glimpses of the females running around with the Halo light swords reminded me of some of the better pictures of Lady Gaga.
- The Dog in Me: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the lovely ladies of Interstellar Civil War before I go. Ellie Church, Tommie Vegas, Kelsey Carlisle, and another extremely cute cast member that I didn’t get the name of were in attendance for the premiere. If I could’ve slipped my wedding ring off without dipping my finger in Vaseline first I would have, but instead I merely admired from afar. Even with some of the limited experience that a couple of the ladies had I didn’t notice anything that made the fans snicker.
- My new BFF: I had the pleasure to spend a few minutes talking with BPA favorite Brad Thornton after the event and he seemed like a really nice guy who was willing to stand around with me in a crowded hallway talking about martial arts and movies.
In conclusion, I mentioned during the interview that I was excited to see the rest of the film when it comes out and that wasn’t a lie. There were plenty of kinks that needed to be worked out but it’s clear that this movie has plenty more to offer than just green screen dialogue. I’m looking forward to seeing it and I would encourage you to check it out too.