DVD Review: Humanity’s End (TBC) / Director: Neil Johnson / Screenplay: Michael John Smith, Neil Johnson / Starring: Jay Laisne, Rochelle Vallesse, Cynthia Ickes, William David Tullin / Release Date: May 21st
Space: 2820. The human race has been all but wiped out, humanity usurped by a genetically-engineered ‘homo superior’ race known as Konstrukts and a race of Borg-like psychic super-aliens called the Nephilim. Between them they’ve decided that humanity’s a waste of space and set about wiping out earth colonies all over the Universe and blowing up the earth - all in the first five minutes. But Mankind’s an indomitable species and we live on; aboard a ricketty space tub we find sleazy space captain Derasi Vorde, his doe-eyed maintenance officer Contessa, a young girl named Alicia who has the ignominy of being a “breeding clone”, a dwarf clone-thing named Sorgon 387 and a petulant AI unit which runs the ship. What chance has the pure essence of the human race amidst such motley company? Let me tell you…
I really should hate Humanity’s End with every fibre of my critical being. It’s eighty minutes of well dodgy CGI (spaceships and explosions galore, none of them remotely convincing to anyone over the age of about two), pompous repetitive music, a script which wants to be a cross between Serenity/Hitch-hiker’s but ends up more like Carry On Up Uranus (fnarr, fnarr) with its oddly-inappropriate and slightly sleazy subplot about Vorde and his desperation to… er… protect the purity of the human race by mating with breeder Alicia. But oddly enough, Humanity’s End is a hard film to dislike because it’s so clumsy and heavy-handed it’s actually quite endearing. Plus, we don’t actually get that many spaceship films these days so it’s a bit of a change to watch something full of poorly-rendered space battles and people with silly names.
Now it’d be churlish to expect Prometheus on a budget of $2 million and I suppose we have to grudgingly admire director/co-writer Johnson for his ambition and his desire to tell such a huge scale story with little more than loose change by Hollywood standards. So his script is peppered with these tortuous ‘character moments’ where Vorde seduces Alicia whilst Contessa yearns for Vorde’s affections and Alicia grizzles about her lot as a baby-maker. In between are these big FX sequences which never really quite come off and a sense of threat which is so huge it’s impossible to really take it seriously. But against all expectations, and after all the bang and clatter and booming portentous threats of human extinction, Humanity’s End sort of finds its feet towards its conclusion, puts aside its childish things and offers up a note of hope in the face of human tragedy.
Oh all right, Humanity’s End is a bit of cheap and worthless trash and yet it’s entertaining enough in its own dumb way, with an appealing sort of rough shambolic charm and if nothing else you’ll have fun spotting all those Red Dwarf/Babylon 5 homages as you cringe at the tacky special effects and the eye-poppingly earnest acting. This is almost the dictionary definition of ‘guilty pleasure’ and boy, do I feel guilty.