Starship Patrol is 2 hours and 26 minutes long (that’s 146 minutes or 8760 seconds). This means this (extremely) low budget movie, based on episode 15 of the Fake It Til You Make It podcast, is longer than Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption. Heck, it’s less than 20-minutes away from matching the runtime of Django Unchained. Now, if that seems like a long runtime for a movie based around one episode of a podcast, it is. Can the actors, writers, and directors overcome that, and quarantine, to deliver an exciting sci-fi adventure?
Meet the crew of the Starship Patrol November: Captain Bancroft (Jessica Lee), pilot Kayla MacLough (Tara Pratt), communications officer Luis De Carol (Ryan Jinn), and tactical officer Jacob Geofferies (Tyler Burrows). After inadvertently letting a ship full of kidnapped Earthlings escape—the pirate ship slid into an alternate dimension—Superintendent Holland (Kris Kuruneri) essentially grounds them, after having removed all their weapons due to an earlier successful but highly risky maneuver.
But, when those human trafficking space pirates defeat the rest of Starship Patrol, only the November can spring into action and try to save the day. Upon landing on the planet the pirates escaped to, a horrifying truth makes the crew question their allegiance to the Triumvirate and its peace accords. Is Prime Minister Swan (Adam Canuck Zimmerman) a pawn being used by evil tycoon Morlund Trudd (Jim Peskin)? Or is he using his position as his personal piggy bank? Will the audience care?
“…when…space pirates defeat the rest of Starship Patrol, only the November can spring into action…”
There is no easy way to say this, so let’s not beat around the bush – Starship Patrol is terrible in almost every way. But first, the positives. The story, much like a dramatic, narrative-driven podcast, is told via narrator. Sadly, the ending credits do not list character names, just the actors and IMDb does not have who portrayed the narrator, so I am unable to give the actor his proper due. This is a crying shame, as he is astounding here. He breathes energy and life into a rather dull, plodding, and far too indulgent story. His descriptors of the action the viewer is not shown, so just about all of it, generates a certain amount of momentum that the terrible direction, static shots, and general shoddiness of the production fail to.
Sticking with good acting for a moment, Siobhan Cooney has an all-too-brief appearance as a receptionist who can sway people’s minds. She uses this power to make everyone she talks to flirt and come on to her, and she’s hilarious. The actor is the perfect mix of fun, feisty, and alluring to pull it off. I desperately wish she was in it more.
Every once in a while, for a big action setpiece, Starship Patrol will scrap its one camera set, static shot set-up, and use paper bag puppets and drawn backgrounds to indicate these battles. I kind of wish the entire movie was done in this style. One, the puppets, the varying sets, and bright colors are the most visually stimulating thing about this visual podcast…erm, I mean, movie. While the puppets’ cartoony look could rub up against the serious subject matter, the film deals with (human trafficking, genocide, wealth, and power versus moral right), but that is the case now. I appreciated that these segments are present, but the back and forth between the puppet style and the live-action that is the bulk of the film is a bit jarring.
And that’s it, everything else about Starship Patrol is wretched in every way. The biggest offender of terrible is Jessica Lee as Captain Bancroft. She is aggressively awful in the lead role, making it virtually impossible for the audience to give a crap about what happens to her. She fails to make the dramatic seriousness of the story sound genuine, her comedic timing is off, so her jokes fall flat, and she is less than convincing spouting off all the sci-fi mumbo jumbo sprinkled throughout the screenplay.
"…is barely a movie."