To my complete surprise, before I started watching Flatland, I learned that this was actually a pilot for a television show that seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth. When I found that out, I was tempted to not even watch it since I was much more interested in watching a movie at the time, but I figured, “What the hell? I’ll give it a watch.” It was packaged and sold as a movie after all, plus the case was boasting about the $40 million budget and how it will please both science fiction and martial arts fans alike. Well, I’m both of them and I have to say that this might be one of the worst things I’ve ever had the displeasure to watch in my entire life.
In the year 2010, a mysterious man named Smith (Dennis Hopper) recruits a group of people for reasons that he isn’t really willing to explain. These people include two previous enemies Quentin (Phillip Rhys) and JT (Bumper Robinson), but also the martial arts master Amy (Françoise Yip). These people soon learn that Smith is a fourth dimensional being who lives in a dimension called Flatland, where the past and the present collide with possibly deadly outcomes. Smith’s mission is to find and eliminate his longtime mortal enemy named Khan (Steven Grieves, David Hayward) who has been reincarnated, much like, Smith time and again throughout the centuries. At first, this team of warrior aren’t willing to join in Smith’s outer dimensional crusade, but soon learn to look at their past lives in order to defeat the dangers that are facing them in the present.
Doesn’t all that shit sound awesome? It really does. Martial arts, Dennis Hopper, and fourth dimensional warfare? Well, My first question is what happened to that $40 million budget that they were raving about because I never saw any evidence of anything over $50. The action sequences and the stunt work were so unbelievably underwhelming and terribly choreographed that it was laughable. I found myself laughing many times during Flatland at the most inopportune times during the plot. I understand what they were trying to do with the often seen high flying action choreography, but it just didn’t work. It seems like a great idea mixing science fiction and martial arts. Just look at The Matrix. The problem is that there is horrible production quality, and the writing. The writing…
It’s rare that I see something that has writing that actually makes me cringe with disgust. The entire screenplay is filled with poetic tough talk that couldn’t be delivered well even if they found Marlon Brando back from the dead. Dennis Hopper’s character has these long tirades that is filled with lines that must have made the writers feel so smart and clever as they were writing them. Unfortunately, they only sound like pretentious pseudo intellectuals who think they are writing philosophical tough talk. The only thing that is just as bad as the writing is the sound design, or often lack there of. Some action scenes seem strangely quiet, and other times way too cluttered. I also need to point out the ridiculously stupid soundtrack of traditional asian music with an electronic flair. It’s the cherry on top of the shit sundae.
To sum it up, it’s probably a good thing that Flatland has been forgotten, judging from this pilot or movie or whatever you want to call it. The idea sounds really cool, but unfortunately the writers had no idea what they were doing with plot or dialogue, the action sequences are stale, and the production design as a whole is total garbage. The only cool thing is seeing Dennis Hopper say his ridiculous dialogue with a straight face. I can categorize Flatland as being so bad it’s good, but it was a total waste of my time.