Starship Apocalypse (2014)


USA. 2014


Director/Screenplay – Neil Johnson, Producers – Philip Burtham & Neil Johnson, Photography – Kyle Wright, Music – Charles-Henri Avelange, Visual Effects – Thomas Buettner, Darko Dartner, Neil Johnson & Sasha Porth, Makeup Effects – Karen Crane, Creature Effects – Midnight Studio FX (Supervisor – Kyle Thompson). Production Company – Empire Motion Pictures.


Darren Jacobs (John Worthy), E.J. de la Pena (Torgus), Joshua Paul Miller (Roartak), Emily Rose Morrison (Jolli Yarsis), Brooke Lewis (Staris), Rajia Baroudi (Czarina), Christina Maria Moses (Diana), Lynn Ayala (Marta), Ralph Guzzo (General Hamish Gustav), Myke Michaels (Overseer), Claudia Wells (Captain Savage)


The forces of Terra Nostra conquer their way across the Federation. They are led by the warlord known as Overseer who now sets out to systematically obliterate Federation planets. The Overseer reputedly has a mix of human and alien DNA and is over 700 hundred years old. The rebel general Gustav and his crew are captured by the Terra Nostra military and placed on trial where they are sentenced to be publicly executed. John Worthy, who captains the Starship One after conducting a mutiny, and his crew lead a rescue just before the execution goes ahead. However, this brings Federation and Terra Nostra forces into conflict with one another.

Neil Johnson is a British director who has been making low-budget science-fiction and horror films since the 1990s, including the likes of The Demons in My Head (1998), To Become One (2002), Battlespace (2006), Nephilim (2007), Humanity’s End (2008), Bipolar Armageddon (2009), Alien Armageddon (2011), Alien Dawn (2012), Dawn of Destruction (2014), Doomsday (2015) and Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter (2017).

Starship Apocalypse is a sequel to Johnson’s Starship Rising (2014), which was released four months earlier the same year. I was not aware Starship Apocalypse was a sequel when I sat down to watch, which may well have cleared up some of the confusions I ended up having. The film has a massive ambition – a space opera with factions fighting at various interplanetary locales – made on a next-to-no budget.

Soon into watching, I became confused trying to follow who all the characters were, let alone who was on whose side, which planet we were on at any one time and why the people were fighting. What it feels like is something like an entire season of Game of Thrones (2011-9) having been condensed down and told in a single 86-minute timeframe. Certainly, after a subsequent viewing of Starship Rising, a good deal of what was going on became clearer.

Stunning effect work from Starship Apocalypse (2014)
Stunning effect work

Everything falls into fairly generic patterns. There is an evil tyrant dark lord bent on conquering the peaceful federation – although I was not exactly clear why this involved blowing planets up. There are various factions of rebels and rogue soldiers fighting against the dark lord and his forces. Assorted space wars and shoot-ups occur. There is also an android aiding the good guys – the opening scenes make mention of how androids are now illegal and the film reaches an ending where the machine intervenes and does something but I wasn’t clear what.

What must be commended about the film is that it has a level of special effects that is way above and beyond the budgetary limitations one expects of it. This would seem to be a feature of Neil Johnson’s films. He and his team manage to produce a very impressive series of spaceships, planetary locales, digital sets and costuming on a nothing budget. I would be amazed to see what Johnson could do with a budget that ran into the multi-millions of dollars.

Trailer here

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