By midlandsmovies, Nov 25 2019 09:03AM
Midlands Review - Invasion Planet Earth
Directed by Simon Cox
Invasion Planet Earth
Alpha Star Creative Productions
A number of children in the 1980s recreating their favourite TV show ‘Kaleidoscope Man’ (this film’s previous title in fact) opens new sci-fi feature Invasion Planet Earth from Midlands director Simon Cox.
This clever parody is a fun way to start a feature that contains more than its fair share of disaster and peril. We then move to the present as a couple Thomas (Simon Haycock) and Mandy (Roxi Drive) are shown to be ready for a new start after the death of their daughter whilst Mandy shares the news that she is pregnant again.
Like all good disaster films the feature moves deftly between different characters at its beginning and lets the story build up without giving away too much of the impending attack to come.
Heading to his job as a doctor Thomas has strange premonitions of an alien Armageddon – but so do some of his patients Harriet (Julie Hoult), Samantha (Sophie Anderson) and Floyd (Danny Steel). The four characters are then abducted by a visiting alien spaceship and are trapped in pods in a strange state of stasis.
Invasion Planet Earth does contain many end-of-the-world and disaster movie clichés. The cross-cutting between character stories helps set the scene and the constant presence of background media reports provide information on the global repercussions of the events.
The check list also includes vulnerable children and the “mad” guy (hello Randy Quaid in Independence Day). But you know what? It doesn’t really matter as it cleverly uses a host of film techniques that raise it above its obvious low-budget roots.
The CGI effects are rather spectacular – digital of course but used wisely given the film’s scope. Other techniques such as shot choices, editing, camera angles and coloured filters shows that the film can handle story beats and excitement without the money of a Roland Emmerich production.
A few religious motifs such as stained-glass windows, a church graveyard and the Ark Bible story attempt to give the film a little more depth which mostly work and great cameos from Toyah Wilcox and Ian Reddington added a bit of stardom to the acting roster. Unfortunately, the super clichéd dialogue is a slight weakness and tends to be so on the nose it may as well be a Groucho Marx costume kit.
That said, I was more impressed by the use of locations and scale of the whole production. Good choice of settings from a school, a church, a gallery and even the sea and coast keep the visuals varied and is a fantastic example to Midlands filmmakers that moving from a terraced house can reap huge rewards!
The slightly confusing narrative continues when it becomes apparent that many scenes are in fact the characters living out each others’ past, dreams and nightmares whilst still in their pods.
Yet some very impressive crowd scenes filmed in Birmingham give the film some cinematic sheen and although the feature trips up a little when the fully-rendered CGI environments are used, that’s my same gripe with Hollywood movies.
The film barrels towards an inevitable CGI action finale with the aliens finally attacking New York (!) and beyond. The striking scale continues when the military show up with tanks. And Thomas’ past heroic actions with his father come back into play as he hopes to save his wife and unborn child from the horde of alien ships.
Overall, the film therefore ends up being an impressive achievement. A few genre clichés aside, it’s amazing to see such a fantastic feature hail from the Midlands. But it goes beyond that. Ignoring geographical limitations the film doesn’t hold back by tackling global issues and inserting well-handled action sequences and a dash of drama into its narrative. Check out Invasion Planet Earth if sci-fi is your thing and for others, bask in its remarkable ambitions which aim for the sky but actually hit the stars.