A man and his daughter decide to venture into a place he had heard about where a sort of radiation can cure her from her illness, something that the doctors failed at. The place is called the Zone and is filled with abnormalities.
After watching and reviewing Rogozhkin's "Chekist" I wanted to give this a try. His filmography has a lot of comedies which I'm not really interested in checking out so I was happy to see he had made a few more films since "Chekist" was something special. With "The Third Planet" he went with something slightly less realistic - a sci-fi movie.
It seems like "the Zone" is something that really caught on in Russian films after Tarkovsky's "Stalker" (or the original book, but my guess is that the inspiration for the films is the film). "The Third Planet" also features such a place, and in this story we have a man and his ill daughter going there. They've tried getting help from doctors but it seems like there is nothing left to do. But the man remembers a place he heard about where she could get healed, and the two of them decide to go search there.
What differs this one from a movie like "Stalker" is that it doesn't really take the time to soak in the surroundings, which would've helped the film a lot. When they get to this place they just wander through different settings way too fast. There are some amazing and beautiful settings but the film just runs through them before we get a time to study them. It's everything from a forest to a basement setting. This is something that lost me a little bit because what could've been a fascinating adventure in a strange place just became a race from point A to B.
But it still manages to be a good movie. Like I said it has some beautiful locations and I prefer seeing them a little bit than having a movie set in some boring setting instead. The movie doesn't always make sense - hell, the dialogue is often confusing like hell. But it doesn't make it hard to follow or get into, which surprised me. It usually takes me a little bit before I get into a film like this but within seconds I was hooked. It's possible that the director's previous comedy films helped it in this aspect, because unlike a lot of other films this didn't feel so dead serious.
It is a weird movie, though. Outside of the fact that this man and his daughter are looking for a cure, it's hard to understand what's going on. Or know what they are talking about. We don't know why some characters do what they do, and we certainly don't know what the hell is going on in the Zone. Some weird things are going down, I tell ya! Scenes often feel like amateurish filmmaking where they just thought "People won't question this because they don't understand it", like with some of the healing scenes where they did whatever with their hands. But I quite liked it, it was interesting to see them pull off something that in current Hollywood would cost a few hundred millions. And I don't mean that the film have a bunch of effects, it has none of that, but it would have if it was made now and there.
"The Third Planet" might be heavily inspired by "Stalker" but it stands on its own two legs just fine. The look of the film has some similarities but it could just as well be the Russian nature doing it. What differs it a lot is that there is more action in this one, especially towards the end where they are chased by military men in gas masks. There's one that actually managed to be creepy too. It's a scene where the daughter stumbles upon a car with three gas masked men sitting in it, and they appear to be dead. She touches the mask of one of them and it just comes off, almost as if it had melted. Then the other two men start moving. When she shoots them some weird stuff is spraying out of them. Very effective scene, actually.
"The Third Planet" is a fairly short film considering what it is - a dystopian Russian film inspired by films like "Stalker". It's just about 90 minutes long and therefor it doesn't feel like a long, dragging adventure, but rather a quick run through the Zone to get what they are after. Of course, it loses some atmosphere and feeling because it never really settles down in one location, but I think it works alright within the movie. Definitely a film worth watching if you like the films of Tarkovsky, Lopushansky and similar.