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Interstellar Civil War Review

July 4, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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Interstellar Civil War Review  

Interstellar Civil War Review

Brad Thornton– Captain Starslayer Burk
Ellie Church– Empress No-Bu
Kelsey Carlisle– Lord General Luka Raan
Paul Gunn– Sergeant Lobo Katz
Cat Cakmis– Leah C6
Glenn Maynard– Kindo-Ker

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Albert Pyun
Screenplay by Albert Pyun and Cynthia Curnan

Distributed by Curnan Pictures



images courtesy david j. moore and Albert Pyun


Interstellar Civil War, director Albert Pyun’s 54th feature film, is not for everyone. Despite its space opera trappings and science fiction premise, it is not a low budget Star Wars homage. Interstellar Civil War is also not a slam bang action romp through space. Instead, Interstellar Civil War is a somber, somewhat morose study of the behind the scenes, ins and outs of what an actual civil war might be like in the colonized space of the future. It’s kind of bizarre, strange, and talky. It isn’t viscerally exciting (it has its moments) but what it lacks in action it makes up for it in philosophy and deep thought. It’s almost like a filmed surreal stage play in space.

The movie takes place in the year 8789 and concerns an impending war between the Imperial Empire and the Rebel Alliance. The Empire is ruled by Empress No-Bu (Ellie Church), a young woman who is just the latest dynastic ruler from the Bu family. She’s worried that Kindo-Ker (Glenn Maynard), the leader of the Rebel Alliance, will launch a massive attack using dark energy (or dark matter or some such) that will potentially kill millions upon millions of people throughout the Imperial realm. No-Bu recruits Lord General Luka Raan (Kelsey Carlisle) to come up with a plan to stop Kindo-Ker, and Raan suggests using the badass Star Warfare Rangers, led by Captain Starslayer Burk (Brad Thornton). And the big hooha plan that Captain Burk is meant to execute involves finding a cyborg named Leah C6 (Cat Cakmis) on the planet Endor. The cyborg, somehow, is the answer to stopping massive death throughout the universe.

Now, while all of that is going on, there are three weird beard mystic witches named the Bu-Tess that watch all of this stuff go down, comment on it as it goes on, before it happens, and after it all happens. In short, the Bu-Tess, through their special powers, seem to be controlling everything in some way. They don’t seem to directly control everything, but their collective influence is felt damn near everywhere. At the same time, the people and beings and whatnot they influence don’t seem to be aware that they are being influenced at all. So it’s almost like the Rangers, Captain Burk, the Empress, even the Rebellion, are being deliberately manipulated simply because the Bu-Tess want to do it. It’s also sort of like that’s what they do anyway. It’s why they exist in the universe.

Well, at least that’s what I think is going on. Interstellar Civil War, with its sprawling story, doesn’t happen in a straight line and tends to jump around. There are also flashbacks, weird dream sequences (you could also call them hallucinations) and bits that just don’t seem to make much sense at all. In the end, it all fits together, in a way, but you have to be willing to pay attention to everything that is said in order to figure out, precisely, what is going on. The dialogue is dense and hard to follow but rich in its own way. It’s like listening to dialogue in a sci-fi novel without any stage directions, narrator, or explanations. Again, it’s hard to follow but it’s also fascinating to listen to. There are things happening in this world that we may not completely understand but the people in that world understand what it all means.

In a way, Interstellar Civil War resembles Pyun’s Nemesis 4: Cry of Angels, a movie that was heavy on dialogue but relatively short on action. Unlike Cry of Angels, Interstellar Civil War is brightly colored and visually vibrant. Most of that is likely due to the extensive use of green screen environments that are simply amazing to look at. There are also some nifty space battle sequences and some excellent fight scenes and moments of kinetic action. I do wish there were more of those kinds of sequences in the movie, but then that isn’t the movie that director Pyun wanted to make. He clearly didn’t have the money to do anything bigger than he did, and with battling dementia, he had to make what he could. It isn’t the most exciting result, but it is enduringly fascinating.

I mean, as soon as the movie was over I wanted to watch it again. I wanted to try to figure out what it is that I missed. I wanted to see if I could figure out what the heck this universe is all about, deep down. How many sci-fi flicks of any budget can you say that about?

The performances are all generally good. Everyone has tons of dialogue to get through, and it’s amazing to me that they did it and made it all sound good and convincing (sci-fi dialogue is usually hard to understand because, with made up words and new worlds and space and whatnot, what the hell does any of it mean anyway?). And the few action scenes we do get show that the Star Warfare Rangers are pretty dang awesome and would make for a good movie on their own.


The film score, by Anthony Riparetti, is hypnotic and terrifying at times. The score is also quite beautiful and is something that you’ll want to listen to again and again. The editing is a tad choppy, but I’d imagine that since the movie isn’t, as far as I know, technically finished it needs some tweaking and will get it.

As I said, Interstellar Civil War isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re an Albert Pyun fan, though, it is an absolute must see. It’s a heartfelt, serious minded science fiction movie that tries to something unexpected. At the moment I’m not sure if it totally succeeds, but at the same time I can’t get the movie out of my mind. It’s a fascinating exercise and a fine showcase of what Pyun, even in the midst of battling a disease, can do.

If you’re a Pyun fan, an adventurous genre movie nerd, or a connoisseur of the strange and surreal, Interstellar Civil War is a movie that you must see. I’m glad I saw it. But then I’m an Albert Pyun fan. Even when his movies maybe don’t quite succeed, they’re still worth checking out. They are experiences you won’t forget.

See Interstellar Civil War. See it, see it, see it. Again, it isn’t for everyone, but at the same time, it’s kind of a masterpiece. And that’s cool.


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Several.

Explosions: A few.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: One of the longest opening crawls you’ll ever experience, three women talking, flashes of cool looking CGI special effects and space scenes, glowing red eyes, some pretty damn awesome war footage, light swords, a nuclear explosion, fighting in front of a grainy green screen, talk of using old equipment because it’s still reliable, off screen cyborg rape, a long pep talk, multiple testimonials, wormhole hooey, a mind meld, memory loss, off screen dead body mutilating, a final meeting, solving an anomaly, and an ending that will make you question what you just saw.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: The future, backstory, flashbacks, stuff happening off screen, quotes from the Empress, a chopper sound, a vision quest, class warfare talk, talk of an “snit-social implant” and “the Murphy factor,” and an ending that will make you question what you just saw.

Best lines: “This is getting too complicated,” “This is to be a completely black operation,” “Too many gaps in the timeline, and now we have an anomaly,” “Who murdered the admiral?,” “Please sit down, Lord General, as we have much to discuss,” “I am looking for hope, Lord General,” “So you created her to be raped?,” “We are the edge of the empress’ blade!,” “Leah. We need you now,” “Fuck them Bu-Tess bitches! Kill’em all!,” “You know what? Guns and fists are for real. Sorcery is for kids,” “Get the fuck away from me, bitch!,” “Yeah, it’s tough coming up against the memory fragments,” “What the fuck? You don’t even know what you’re talking about, corporal!,” “Horse shit is coming out of your mouth, asshole!,” “Oh, dear, do we have to clean him up?,” and “Do you think committing war crimes wins hearts and minds?”

The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
Interstellar Civil War is a low budget science fiction movie that is short on action and long on dense dialogue. It’s also chock full of surreal imagery and ideas that you pick up on as the story moves forward. It’s a weird movie, yes, not quite the action fest you expect with a futuristic space opera. But it’s that “weirdness” that makes the movie fascinating to experience. As I said earlier, I’m not entirely sure that the movie is successful, but at the same time I can’t get the movie out of my mind. It’s beautiful to look at. If you’re a fan of Albert Pyun you have to check it out. It’s his 54th and, possibly, last movie. Drink it in. A kind of masterpiece.