The Perfect Planet (2009) – By Philip Smolen


In the near future, man has begun to explore the universe in a futile attempt to find life on another world. On a recent mission two crewmen are exploring a desert world. Jacob (Russ Kingston) is on his last mission and he can’t wait for it to be over. He can’t even remember how many unsuccessful missions he’s been on. His partner Ethan (Kenneth Sears) is on his first mission and his enthusiasm annoys Jacob. Exploring a rock face with many small pockets, Ethan gets a reading and is convinced there’s life in there. Jacob, however, tries to dissuade Ethan by telling him it’s merely a false positive reading. Ethan reaches in and is bitten by a crab-like creature that he manages to remove from the hole. Jacob is amazed that Ethan has found a specimen of alien life. However, Ethan begins to feel some ill effects from the creature’s bite so Jacob has to help him back to the ship. But on the way back, Jacob begins to experience feelings of jealousy about Ethan’s discovery and starts to think that maybe only one of them should go back to the ship with their discovery.

“The Perfect Planet” is an 11-minute sci-fi short from writer/director Brandon Kaplan and it successfully captures the feeling of an old “Twilight Zone” episode. It has the grizzled space veteran and exuberant youth who rub each other the wrong way. It also features a bleak, featureless landscape that the two traverse as they try to complete their mission. And once their objective has been reached, classic human jealousy takes over one of the characters and he becomes convinced that he is entitled to claim their prize so he can get the glory.

The film is slickly made and features good performances from Kenneth Sears and Russ Kingston. The location photography is also excellent and it does really seem like Jacob and Ethan are on a different world. “The Perfect Planet” is a well done sci-fi short that very comfortably fits into the classic sci-fi TV mold.

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