We’ve said it many times here at OC Movie Reviews, when you go to make your first film, selecting a big, CGI-fest, usually sci-fi, is a choice you make at your peril. Think of the scale of Disney and Marvel, the work of Scorsese on the recent The Irishman, that’s what people can watch whenever they want and you, rightly or wrongly, must live up to it.
Writer and director Simon Cox has decided to go full steam ahead into a sci-fi, CGI fest extravaganza with his writing debut and brings us Invasion Planet Earth, filmed mostly in Birmingham in the UK, though Cox doesn’t hold back on his ambition.
The story follows doctor Thomas Dunn, Simon Haycock (“Wasp”, “The Woods (Short)”), as he learns he’s about to become a father again with his partner Mandy, Lucy Drive (“Ben Hur”, “House Of Evil”), but also that the care home he works for is about to be shut down.
As if this was bad enough, all this happens on the day aliens decide to invade Earth and it’s Dunn and three of his patients: Harriet, Julie Hoult (“The Forewarning”, “Hot Property”), Floyd, Danny Steele (“Night Bus”, “Chicken”) and Samantha, Sophie Anderson (“Night Bus”, “Dirtymoney”), who are taken first.
Whilst we never expected Marvel levels of CGI, here we are faced with BBC Doctor Who levels, and there’s a lot of it and, regardless of the level of quality, it doesn’t all work from a story point of view.
The first third of the film is slow and meandering as we setup who is who and Cox and his writing partner Simon Bovey (“The Waiting”, “The Un-Gone (Short)”), make us wait for the big invasion.
When the aliens finally arrive, and you move past the CGI, the second third of the movie is a bizarre, head-twisting, lurching story whereby we spend a short period in each of the captured parties’ heads as they, collectively, share some visions.
The purposes of these vision I’m not entirely clear on. I think they are meant to be showing us why the aliens are here? Why these people were chosen first? Or something else entirely?
Anyway, into the final third and the invasion begins, people run around, countries begin blaming each other for the invasion, with dire consequences, whilst Dunn and pals watch from the orbiting space ship (from which Dunn manages to make a phone call on his mobile, I struggle on Earth sometimes!).
I like and greatly admire the ambition with Invasion Planet Earth and I do dig the story and really liked the twist, the big reveal, why are these visitors here? But it takes far to long to get there and the dialogue is cliché and often sounds like a bad eighties action film.
Invasion Planet Earth may have been nine years in the making but this passion project simply doesn’t have the budget or story to match the ambition on show.