Speaking about his new movie Ferocious Planet, Stargate Atlantis star Joe Flanigan says, “to just get back into some camouflage and run around and shoot things. Call me crazy. I know it sounds a little weird, but I felt right at home!”
As a matter of fact, there are so many similarities between the Syfy series and the new original movie, at a quick glance, it can be hard to tell them apart. Just look at the photo of Flanigan on the run with his movie co-star — looks like Atlantis to me!
In Ferocious Planet, Flanigan plays a disgraced Colonel who has been assigned to babysit a couple of scientists working in a bunker next door to the IRS. Enter John Rhys-Davies, a borish Senator who threatens to cut off the project’s funding if Dr. O’Hara (Dagmar Döring) can’t convince him that she’s doing something worthwhile.
Against her better judgment, she fires up the machine which creates a window into parallel dimensions. Unfortunately, things go sideways and the entire bunker is thrown through a portal and into a land that is inhabited by creepy creatures that skitter around your feet and big mama monsters who don’t take kindly to visitors.
From there, it’s non-stop action as Flanigan and his two teammates do all they can to protect the civilians while the Doctor and her tech work on a way to get them back home.
Like all Syfy Original Movies, Ferocious Planet surges forward with tongue firmly planted in cheek. That’s not to say that it’s as wild as Mega Piranha or Sharktopus. The parallel dimension plot makes the creatures much more believable, kind of like an episode of Primeval.
Flanigan plays the whole thing like a war-weary commando whose quick with a quip and more annoyed than fearful of being killed. Flanigan says his calm demeanor was less of a directorial choice and more about the fact that he was mislead in regard to the size of the monsters.
“I didn’t think they’d be that big,” he told reporters on a recent conference call. “When we shot this, we shot it Ireland, and we worked strictly on green screen, and we weren’t given much in the way of what it was going to look like. And that’s kind of interesting because on [Stargate Atlantis], we always knew what the Wraith were going to look like. And so, you had an idea of what you were looking at and what you were working with. [With Ferocious Planet], we weren’t entirely clear what these things were going to look like until after we shot it, so I was just hoping that our levels of appropriate fear were there.”
Since Flanigan plays the stalwart leader of the group, charged with keeping even the most reckless among them safe, it’s okay that he doesn’t freak out at the sight of a horned monster with two sets of three eyes and jaws that can snap a man in two with one bite. He doesn’t freak, but he does want to get back home while a few of the other characters think they should stay and be the first human beings to investigate this new world. I asked Joe if he would stay or would he go?
“I think it depends on what you left behind. I mean, you got a wife and kids left behind; you might want to run and go back. I think if you don’t, then I think it could be a nice permanent vacation. In our case, it’s unclear – in the movie, it was kind of funny because all I really have to go back to is a boat. And really – you know in retrospect, that’s really not a hell of a lot of to go back to. Maybe I should’ve stayed. It might’ve been the lack of cold beer or something that [made me want to] run.
It does appear to be in Flanigan’s nature to find the swiftest, easiest route out of a tricky situation.
“Our stunt guy on Atlantis (James Bamford) always had in his mind that I was some karate expert of some sort and would have these enormously like elaborate you know choreographed fights going on. And, I would say, “You know, I’m not that guy. I’m Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. I just pick my gun up and shoot the guy.” I mean the path of least resistance. And it would frustrate him. However, we were able to make it up with my character getting kind of beat to crap and getting thrown around. And I think it worked well for that character. And in this case, it’s not unsimilar. [In] Ferocious Planet, the guy gets kind of whacked around a good bit.”
And from the sound of it, Flanigan gets ‘whacked around a good bit” in real life, too.
“I sit here talking to you with a fully separated AC joint – third degree AC separation, a semi-chopped off finger, and it’s all from just nonsensical stuff like mountain biking. And, I’m actually sitting at the base of Aspen Mountain as we speak trying to figure out if I’m going to go cross-country skiing, snowboarding, or just down-hilling. I live for it. And that’s why I think I like action/adventures, because I just need to physicalize things, and it’s tough for me to be inside doing domestic-like acting.”
Ferocious Planet is definitely not “domestic.” It’s an entertaining ride with a neat little payoff at the end.
Finally, Joe Flanigan had some words for the Stargate Atlantis fans.
“As you know, the franchise has been summarily closed. That doesn’t mean that’s the end of the franchise by any stretch of the imagination, especially if I have my druthers, I’ll find a way to bring it back. I think the fans deserve to see some closure or at least some type of continuation. I think that – and especially in regards to my show, it was just unceremoniously closed and we need to do something about it.”
To that, I say, “hear, hear!”
Watch the Syfy Saturday Original Movie Ferocious Planet, this Saturday, April 9, at 9:00 pm Easter/Pacific time, 8:00 pm Central.