Twitter Plot Summary: Survivors on a space station fight zombies. Well, almost zombies. Really quite bad zombies.
Five Point Summary:
1. Is she ever going to put some clothes on?
2. You call them zombies? Pah, I say! PAH!
3. Tybalt shows up – almost the film’s saviour.
4. The obligatory “lots of people die” sequence.
5. I’m not really sure what’s going on now. Nor do I really care.
With CGI akin to a mid-90s video game, Total Retribution does not get off to a good start. The next sequence featuring a naked woman painted white (apparently to indicate that she has been cryogenically frozen by the extras who have strolled in from 1989’s Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier), and yet more bad special effects designed to cover up their lack of budget, and aptly sets up the remaining 60-odd minutes of the film. It takes this woman nearly 20 minutes to find some clothes, by that point it’s almost not worth her covering up. Still, she does so and the plot continues on regardless.
As for that plot, it’s primarily about a bunch of survivors on a station orbiting Earth, who in a bid to escape are forced into combat with zombies. Well, sort of. To even call them zombies is offensive, each of the “sort of” undead moves like they have no concept of what acting actually requires (like pretending you’re someone or something else), let alone the idea that zombies may move in a specific way because they’re dead.
The bad, near laughable CGI isn’t the only problem facing Total Retribution, although it’s certainly a contributing factor. The acting is equally as bad and equally as laughable, a cavalcade of low rent actors say a few lines and either do some angry acting or demonstrate that perhaps it might be worth reconsidering their chosen career path. It has all the hallmarks of a ridiculously low budget film, right up to and including the limited number of sets and frequent extreme close-ups of each person in the cast – because there isn’t enough room to fit their entire bodies in the frame.
Events take a turn for the better when the amusingly effeminate Colonel Tybalt flounces around the corner and provides a modicum of entertainment in the final third, but he is subsequently underused and could have perhaps done with being introduced a little earlier just to keep the audience interested.
Lurking somewhere behind all of this awfulness is a script that in better hands might have resulted in a half decent film, albeit with a few rewrites to address the logical inconsistencies and the multiple elements of the narrative that remain unclear. The fault doesn’t lie with the script writer (Montserrat Mendez) in this instance, as her original script is much clearer than the final product (the script is available on Pandora Machine’s website via a web search). Instead it’s entirely down to the interpretation of that script and its transition from page to screen.
Rather admirably, Pandora Machine freely admit that their final productions are made quickly and on the cheap, so therefore in their words, whilst the film is made “as good as possible” this may mean it is not “as good as we’d like”. They deserve respect for managing to finish their film rather than getting halfway through production and calling it quits, but sadly that doesn’t necessarily equate to it being a good film. It lands well wide of the mark we would ordinarily accept, and there’s no coming back from that.