Humanity's End
(2008)



Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. And also your eyeballs, and maybe your sanity. And could I borrow 20 bucks? Anyway, what's next in line on my stack of Blockbuster clearance movies?


Slowly getting shorter!


Scene, interior set, dodgy casting agency office in a West Hollywood strip mall, 2007
Jay: Hi, I'm Jay Laisne, I'm here to audition for the role of (checks copy of open-call sheet he found in the locker room at the Y fifteen minutes ago)...Captain Derasi Vorde? Am I saying that right? Yeah?
Neil: I'm Neil Johnson, the film's director, producer, screenwriter, narrator, editor, cameraman, costume designer, set designer, and financier, the shoot starts Wednesday in San Bernardino, be there at 8am. (hands packet of contracts to sign across desk)
Jay: Uh, so, that's it? I got the part? I didn't even...
Neil: Yeah, look, I have a dozen other roles to cast before noon today so....just, ya know, be there at 8, ok?
Jay: ....ok, sure.

Scene, exterior, parking lot of rented storage locker complex in San Bernardino, 8am
Neil: Hey, you made it, glad you're here, Jim!
Jay: Jay.
Neil: Sure, Jim, let's get you "into character". (spreads hands dramatically like his adjunct film theory professor at junior college liked to do)
Jay: It's Jay. Who is my character again?
Neil: You're Captain Derasi Vorde, roguish master of a smuggler ship in the far reaches of outer space in the distant future. You hate authority, love danger, crave attention, have sex with anything with boobs, make jokes in the face of death, but also have a softer side and a deep longing to make a difference in a galaxy torn by war.
Jay: Great, so.....Han Solo?
Neil: Yes!
Jay: And...Mal from Serenity?
Neil: You got it!
Jay: Oh, and Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop?
Neil: I don't know what that is? Is that porn?
Jay: Captain Kirk in the 1960s, then, yeah, swashbuckling, scruffy, ladykiller with a heart of gold. Got it.
Neil: Great! Here's a khaki t-shirt and a pair of black chinos and a toy Star Wars gunbelt and blaster combo I bought at Walmart yesterday and spraypainted silver. Let's get on set!

Scene, interior 12x18 foot storage room built to look like a generic "spaceship cockpit", 8:05am
Jay: Wow, that is a lot of dryer vent hoses, cardboard, broken electronics pieces, and eBay greenscreening. Is the Captain's chair a plastic frame from a dune buggy painted black?
Neil: Don't worry about it, we'll fix it all in post. Let's act! Here's the script. (hands papers)
Jay: Uh, thi...
Neil: Oh, sorry, wrong papers, that's the eviction notice from my apartment complex, I sure hope this movie sells! Hahaha. Here is the script, let's get you that Oscar, Jim. (spreads hands again with flourish).

.....I was going to do more with this but I ran out of interest, haha. Writing is hard.

So we have here a fairly brisk sci-fi movie made on a low budget with big dreams. It's definitely a product of the cultural time it was made, with a lot of Babylon 5 vibes, entire concepts lifted from The Fifth Element, and a script that virtually screams "rejected proposal for a late-series Andromeda episode", but things could have been worse, I guess.

I feel like we should start by talking about the movie's "special effects", because they are easily two-thirds of the runtime and it sure seems like that's what the director's main focus was on. There are multiple planets, several races of space creatures, vast fleets of interstellar warships, huge colonies of civilians spread across the galaxy, space battles, planet battles, death clouds of radiation, even giant mech walkers with laaaaaaazer guns. And it's all, kinda ok-ish? I mean it's not the best, but it's certainly vastly better than I expected. I think the main reason is that whoever batched up all this CGI made an effort to (digitally) light the scenes correctly. So much cheap-ass CGI in sci-fi movies looks so bright and flat even in the depths of space, but here a majority of it has shadows and texture differences and focus lengths that change with the light sources, it's really well done.


CTRL-V for space armada.


Warp Stargate thingies?


All the interior backgrounds are CGI greenscreens, too.

The biggest problem with the movie is the overall quality of the plot, specifically that the tonal shifts from scene to scene are mindbogglingly varied. It's like they started out shooting a campy, over-the-top, quippy sci-fi sex comedy a la Barbarella. Then during the post-production process they decided it was going to be a fucking dark, bloody, dramatic, ultra-serious movie about the end of the human race. But they had already shot all the scenes with the main human cast and had to work with the footage they had. So you have back-to-back scenes of jokey, swaggering Derasi doing silly things and making silly voices, and then bam! the next scene is some aliens monologuing about conquering the galaxy or some child being murdered on-screen (seriously).


"What kind of movie am I in?"

There's this romantic triangle between Derasi and the film's two female characters, Contessa and Alicia. It's played for laughs most of the time, with the older and wiser Contessa being jealous of the much, much younger and hotter Alicia coming into the picture. Derasi (of course) wants to slap meat with Alicia and all of their scenes together are like...sigh, this hurts to type...like the worst early-2000's Judd Apatow ripoff boner roadtrip sex comedies, with inappropriate virgin jokes and under-the-cover nudity.


Awkwardly rapey.

And then bam! we find out Contessa is actually a reprogrammed sex slave robot that used to be married to one of Derasi's crewmen and once shot a kid in the face. Her entire character arc in this movie is to find a husband and get married, though that's a function of her programming, I guess. She's got eyes on Derasi, but he's not into her that way.


Contessa gets friend-zoned.

And bam! we learn that Alicia is a "breeder", a girl paid to collect sperm samples from men across the galaxy to further the human race, sperm that she keeps in capsules inside....(bleaches eyes) a stuffed teddy bear that she carries around and coos and dances with like the absolute worst loli waifu nightmare. None of this "romantic drama" makes any sense and it's written so badly that you just want to cringe every time it comes up.


Can we just get back to space-lazers?

And the smuggler ship's computer is the disembodied voice of a eons-old alien being mixed with the personality of Derasi's ex-wife. Did I mention that this film is set in the 29th Century? I may have not, but it's way way in the future.


The user interfaces for the all the ship control panels are a bit clunky.

And there's clones? A lot of clones? Like, billions of them, it seems. Made as slaves by humans to do work on hostile planets, they are currently revolting against the "normal humans". Their definition of "clones" must be different than mine, though, as you'd think a cloned human is still genetically a human. But that's why I'm not a Hollywood scriptwriter, after all.


The clones speak helpfully-subtitled clone-ese.

And lastly the galaxy is under siege by the Nephilim, ancient alien gods that have been around for millions of years. Predictably, all the Nephilims look like sci-fi edgelord Goth trenchcoat teens as imagined by a costume designer who had Chronicles of Riddick on DVD auto-loop. It's clear after about the fourth rambling, semi-coherent monologue about the Nephilim that the director Neil Johnson really, truly believes that the fabled giants of antiquity were actually aliens. The early/mid 2000s were the heyday of shitty Geocities conspiracy/alt-history websites that peddled all sorts of outlandish theories about ancient aliens and pseudo-scientific bullshit. I know, I used to run one (sigh).


Judging by these two, the Nephilim are rather ethnically inclusive!

While the vast majority of the archaeological community places the Nephilim firmly in the realm of myth and religious allegory, there is...ya know, enough gray areas in the distant past of our planet that...ya know, who can really say for sure? Maybe we were visited by a race of godlike aliens thousands of years ago before human civilization began? Can you really prove otherwise? Is there any "proof" in any sense of the word that giant aliens walked the earth in pre-history? Not really. Is there any proof that they didn't, though? Also not really, and therein lies the problem.


Is this image fake!??! Yes, duh, but gullible/stupid people believe this kind of thing because "it's on the internet so it must be true!".

Ok back to the movie, so Derasi and his merry band of Heinlein-ian sci-fi stock characters are the last hope for humanity and they have to fight back against the clones and the Nephilim who want to kill off all the humans so they can...be immortal? Or something, it's not clear, but there's a lot of gunfire and exploding shit along the way. The clones (who long ago revolted and formed their own, parallel society in the galaxy?) are in an uneasy (and unequal) alliance with the Nephilim, who are using the clones just to help them hunt down all the "pure-bred humans" and exterminate them.


Derasi makes his (dumb) plans to stop all this.

The final confrontation takes place on the surface of an irradiated Mars and ends with Derasi being impaled by a clone trooper, Contessa putting on a SoCal yoga instructor outfit and grabbing a BFG-9000, Alicia announcing she's pregnant, the Nephilim get slaughtered, wait who is that lady?, wait who is that dude?, some dead girl is cloned to give the ship's computer a body, and it's possible that all the ladies turn lesbian, and we time-jump a decade in the future to a planet that looks just exactly like a state beach on the LA County shore. So much shoddy insanity in, like, 15 minutes that my brain cannot comprehend it all.


Need 12,000xp to unlock that gun.


Shootin' the stuff.

As the copyright-free music swells, Derasi dies in Contessa's arms, but not before giving fishing lessons to a clone guy and stating again and again that he's not ready to have kids, ok? The acting in this film is just so bad, like community theater in Fresno bad, it makes it excruciatingly hard to focus on anything that's happening with the plot. How much can you blame on the laughably hokey script, or the (lack of) set direction, and how much is just hiring homeless people and out-of-work grocery clerks to be your main actors? It just makes me hurt inside to listen to anyone in this movie reading lines. I suspect (hope) that if you watch this movie on mute and just guess at the dialogue, that it's a 200% better experience. The visuals are just striking enough, the girls are just pretty enough, and the pacing is brisk enough, that without knowing the plot (blessedly) and not hearing the speaking parts, you might actually really enjoy Humanity's End? I guess!


Derasai gets his Oscar scene.

And that's over now. But wait!


So the closing credits crawl is full of weird shit. This baby's name, for starts.


hahaha.


Admitting they used free VFX from the internet.


Yeah, I really doubt that.


Refreshingly honest.


A full orchestra? The music was pretty cool, I'll admit that.


Going to call bullshit on this, what constitutes "filming in China"? Or Germany? Using region-locked stock footage doesn't count, my dudes.


Ok, I'm done here, night all!

[Editor Bradley--I still don't know where the hell you're hiding, Nate...but you had me at "sperm-filled teddy bear."]

Written in February 2021 by Nathan Decker.



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