Invasion Planet Earth review is a sci-fi movie made in the UK over the course of a decade – and it’s worth seeking out too.
There’s a pretty set path for low budget sci-fi movies that, to its credit, Invasion Planet Earth wilfully ignores. It bypasses conventions like using confined spaces, a limited cast, dimly lit pseudo-industrial interiors, exterior quarries and off-screen action; there’s not a shiny metallic surface or flashing light in sight here. Instead, we get lots of real locations, wide coastal vistas, crowd scenes, plenty of greenscreen and lots of CGI. The latter two are used in what could be described as ‘impressionistic’ ways at points. However, in a world where we routinely laud movies as technical achievements, the dedication needed to deliver a movie of this scope on such a micro budget deserves similar recognition.
As a filmmaking moonshot by director and producer Simon Cox, Invasion never once lowers its aim and you have to applaud that. Long known as Kaleidoscope Man, a fact cleverly referenced early on in the story, the film comes with an onscreen look and feel well beyond what you’d expect from a budget that probably wouldn’t cover the coffee bill for one episode of The Mandolorian. It’s even more impressive given its 15-year gestation, and the fact that the film was shot over five years. Despite this, as a story, it holds together well and offers a sci-fi vision that strikes the visual tone of a Russell T. Davies Doctor Who episode. It will please fans of that, and of other numerous Alien influxes Hollywood has thrown our way.
Starting as a parochial story, its scope becomes ever larger across its 90 or so minutes. Alongside this ever-growing scale, its tone becomes more sincere as it works towards an unexpectedly philosophical, epic, ending. Structurally, its script devices allow the filmmakers to play with multiple genres in interesting ways, before pulling everything together in a large set-piece conclusion that many will immediately identify as being shot on location in Birmingham. At its heart is a tale, though wishful in regards to recovery from mental illness, about people overcoming that which holds them back. And it’s a theme that befits its journey to the big screen. Considering that journey, to criticise slight wobbles in tone and VFX would be churlish. It rattles along at an admirable pace, and never shies away from showing us a big set piece when it has the chance to do it.
It all adds up to 90 minutes of genre film that, while not the polished high-budget fare we’re routinely fed in our cinemas, is a noble attempt to make straight-ahead sci-fi that never backs down.
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