Studio: The Asylum
Director: James Kondelik
Writer: Jacob Cooney, Bill Hanstock
Producer: David Michael Latt
Stars: Kelly Hu, Robert Picardo, Lane Townsend, Anthony Marks, Morgan West
When a meteor threatens to strike the planet, a war is waged on Earth and on an alien world after the military uncovers a plot to destroy mankind.
When a B-movie titled ¡°Age of Tomorrow¡± quietly appears on home video just four days after Tom Cruise blockbuster ¡°Edge of Tomorrow¡± releases in theaters, it doesn¡¯t take Kreskin to divine that The Asylum is guaranteed to be behind it. The real revelation though, is that The Asylum is apparently still so drunk on the unexpected success of ¡°Sharknado¡± (review here) that they don¡¯t even pay attention to what it is they are mockbusting anymore.
Here is how the official synopsis of ¡°Age of Tomorrow¡± reads on The Asylum¡¯s website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and IMDB summary: ¡°When the sun strikes an altar hidden within the ancient Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico, it creates a beacon that triggers an alien blitzkrieg. Within hours, their ships destroy all the military infrastructure on earth. One anthropologist knows how to repel the invaders, but this secret is buried under the ruins of the Pyramid of the Moon ¨C directly underneath the mothership.¡±
Now for the funny part. None of the above actually appears in the movie. No one is an anthropologist, neither a Pyramid of the Sun nor of the Moon plays a role, and unless the Hollywood sign moved to Tijuana, ¡°Age of Tomorrow¡± definitely does not take place in Mexico. It might seem like someone perhaps cut and pasted the wrong summary into every possible listing for the film, but The Asylum confusingly continues propagating the myth.
One of their ¡°Age of Tomorrow¡±-related Facebook posts reads, ¡°we got your aliens, pyramids, ancient prophecies, spacesuits, and total annihilation of mankind.¡± Maybe they do, but ¡°Age of Tomorrow¡± doesn¡¯t. Three of those five descriptors are accurate. It¡¯s the two that aren¡¯t that make me wonder if The Asylum even watches their own movies.
A tweet on The Asylum¡¯s Twitter feed boasts, ¡°Aliens! Pyramids! Creepy doll faces with blacked-out eyes!¡± The cover art does indeed feature Kelly Hu with a face of cracked porcelain and animal-like black eyes, yet once again, no such scene exists anywhere in the movie. I don¡¯t know what Marketing thought they were promoting, but whatever it was, it sounds like a much better movie than the one that was released.
In the actual plot of ¡°Age of Tomorrow,¡± Kelly Hu plays a doctor who warns Army general Robert Picardo of an impending meteor shower threatening to eradicate mankind. Lesser-known actors then take to the skies to destroy the space rock while firefighters on the ground dabble in Earth-based heroics. A plot to destroy the planet that involves kidnapping humans through portals, destroying Los Angeles with laser-firing orbs, and an alien race facing extinction is then uncovered as everyone fights for survival.
I wish I were inspired enough to rewrite that. Because even that basic recap makes ¡°Age of Tomorrow¡± sound cooler than it really is.
Apologists will argue that The Asylum¡¯s films purposefully wallow in low-budget origins and intentionally underdeveloped scripts. ¡°That¡¯s just their style.¡± I will counter that even knowingly bad genre films have to exhibit a modicum of respect for audience intelligence and a reasonable quality level, no matter if it is a B, or even a D-movie. But above all else, it still has to be fun.
The cheesiness in ¡°Age of Tomorrow¡± stops being amusing before the 30-minute mark upon realizing that the cast and crew are only doing the minimum to turn a bare script into a passable feature-length motion picture. ¡°Age of Tomorrow¡± is an unsatisfactory effort all around, even by The Asylum¡¯s ¡°standards¡± for disposable entertainment.
Production design is a joke. Driving sequences look like a Flintstones cartoon since someone only paid for ten seconds of stock footage, requiring the firemen to drive past the same building countless times while grips rock their truck as if it is offroading in Baja. The military men and women wear the most ineffectual spacesuits ever created. It looks like no one can see a thing because everyone¡¯s visors are perpetually fogged from their own breath.
The actors aren¡¯t exactly playing their roles with tongues against cheeks, but they are aware of what type of movie they are in. Yet instead of being an inspiration to let it rip and gobble scenery, it is taken as an excuse to underperform with flat line delivery and flatter performances.
The initial notes I wrote while viewing the film belonged in that aforementioned apologist camp. My first note reads, ¡°is it really a bad thing that The Asylum¡¯s movies are so uniquely identifiable? I mean, when was the last time you were able to say, that was definitely a Paramount picture or a Warner Brothers movie?¡±
¡°Age of Tomorrow¡± starts with that typical Asylum tone of retaining a sense of humor about being overdramatic. A scene of one lone fireman racing into a burning building to rescue a screaming woman while fellow firefighters comfortably observe from the sidewalk has that sensibility down pat. Then the movie sleepwalks through a lazy rut of ¡°eh, this¡¯ll be fine¡± scripting, lame visual effects that are inexcusable for 2014, and a story that is just plain boring. Unless floating spheres firing laser beams with pew pew sound effects fills your cup of Earl Grey.
I would be disheartened to discover that anyone involved with ¡°Age of Tomorrow¡± took pride in the final product. The Asylum has built enough of a reputation that being named in their credits is no longer the embarrassment it once was. But being a part of this particular disappointment certainly should be.
Review Score: 35