After the death of his young daughter, Tom Dunn is a broken man. When his wife falls pregnant again, he cannot believe their luck. However, his joy is short lived, as on the very same day, the people of Earth become plagued with terrifying visions of the end of the world. When a gigantic, all-consuming alien mothership appears in the sky and launches a ruthless attack on Earth’s cities, chaos and destruction follow! Tom must find the strength and wisdom to save his wife and unborn child. However, first he must confront a shocking truth. A truth which threatens the key to the survival of the human race.
Reading the history of this film made me more apprehensive than it did excited. Twenty years from inception to release, with roughly seventeen years in production does not necessarily scream “triumph of filmmaking” to me but rather “watcher beware.” Invasion Planet Earth is the brainchild of Simon Cox who is credited as not only the director but also the co-writer, editor, and VFX supervisor/producer. Unable to fund his film in the more traditional ways of the past, Cox used social media and crowdfunding to finally complete his decades-long dream, crediting over a hundred producers on IMDb–his backers and contributors that helped make Invasion Planet Earth a reality.
The main cast of characters really grew on me and the acting was, for the most part, pretty acceptable. No one is walking away with an Oscar here, but the motley crew of alien-battling Brits did well considering the amount of time that must have been spent behind a green screen imagining surroundings and such. Simon Haycock did a pretty sterling job as the cliched, handsome protagonist and his supporting cast (Danny Steele, Julie Hoult, Sophie Anderson, and Lucy Drive) receive no complaints from me at all. All impressive and well cast.
Invasion Planet Earth tells a decent story. It’s nothing groundbreaking and is a little messy towards the start of the film, especially when the characters are jumping from world to world or reality to reality. While all the pieces do eventually fall into place, there is a lot of initial misdirection. That said, once the credits roll, I found the message delivered quite relatable and sadly true. Is the film itself a warning? Is it a prediction like the visions at the start? I’d say that’s a pretty acceptable assumption.
Also, the scale of the film is quite immense. What it has tried to pull off is quite daring if not a little mad. Cox has, regardless of his budget, decided to pull out all of the stops and has created quite an epic, although there are some factors that do prevent the film from reaching its true potential with the biggest factor probably the budget.
I personally disliked the heavy incorporation of Christianity, with biblical stories and references to faith rearing its head again and again. I understand the metaphor of the “Noah’s Ark” lesson and how it pertains to the story as a whole, but the priest had nothing to offer to the plot other than to validate Christain dogma–something largely irrelevant to the story and probably more someone’s personal beliefs needing validation.
The score itself is pretty decent but the sound editing, particularly where the levels are concerned, can be a little hit and miss. The special effects (VFX) on the other hand were a big issue for me. There are definitely moments where I was more focussed on the story than the visuals, but a lot of the alien craft and on-screen effects looked right out of a cheap 70’s sci-fi; MST3K would have had a field day with some of those scenes. This is where the scale of the film–Cox’s vision–was definitely impacted by the budget. Cox and team probably did the best that they could with the budget they had in hand, but a lot of the visuals felt just too cheap and cheesy.
There is a lot that went into Invasion Planet Earth. No doubt the epitome of a passion project, the film successfully delivers a good story with decent character progression, emotional highs and lows, and a traditional sci-fi style that you’d be hardpressed to find in today’s film climate. It does, however, suffer from some cheap visual effects which unfortunately tarnishes the film’s otherwise grand vision. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer and poster below.
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