It is nice to see something of global significance portrayed somewhere outside of North America. The SPFX are great, but the plot requires some suspension of disbelief. Invisible aliens are one thing, but the idea of a residential apartment being converted into an enormous Faraday cage ...
It starts with a huge cloud of superheated water vapour, like in Independence Day . The twenty-somethings watch as something deadly trashes the city centre in the distance, like in Cloverfield . Finally, in the harsh light of day we get to see Giant CGI robots stomping people, like in Transformers
This is the first big Alien Invasion film in a long time (well, since Signs ) but it seems to be cobbled together from so many other films. It is competently done, but not exactly original.
The film's defenders claim it is a positive portrayal of the USMC. But the central characters, despite a gratuitous characterisation segment at the start, are merely a bunch of interchangeable redshirts. Their strategy is based on supposed air superiority by the USAF, but the Marines do not actually call in air support even when ambushed and surrounded. Luckily, the aliens use the central control system that we saw a decade ago in The Phantom Menace . Yes, the USMC stormtroopers are defeated repeatedly by villains who would be hard-pressed to menace Jar-Jar Binks! And some idiots think this is a POSITIVE portrayal of the marines?
This is not even a good action film. The predominant use of shakey-cam in all the action sequences make it very hard to work out what is going on. It is over ten years since Spielberg popularised it in Saving Private Ryan, and it has become a cliche in every battle scene since then.
Los Angeles is invaded by flying saucers. Luckily, it is defended by the reservists from the California Air National Guard. Also, a Ninja-babe ( Nia Peebles ) from Majestic 12 is in town.
Although the protagonists are a gang of hoodies, there is a moral tone to the film. The leader of the street gang (John Boyega - Star Wars: The Force Awakens ) must learn to take responsibility for his actions.
The General is injured, so Jaden must save them both. However, he is haunted by the memories of his sister's death at the hands of an alien monster. His sidearm is a Ranger staff-weapon from Babylon 5 , which can reconfigure itself into any of 21 different types of blade. There are no projectile weapons in the future, it seems.
M Night Shyamalan delivers a competent film. There is no twist ending, it is all quite straightforward. Will Smith is good, as always, but his son carries almost the entire film.
Some Alien invaders still survive in the shatters remains of Earth. The hydro-rigs are protected by security drones - a flying version of ED-209 from Robocop . Tom Cruise ( Mission Impossible ) is a technician who repairs the drones. He lives with Victoria ( Angela Riseborough ) in a mountaintop penthouse.
Our hero's memory has been wiped (like something out of Philip K Dick ), but he has mysterious dreams about Olga Kurlyenko . Of course, things get a lot more confusing.
Things really kick off when Cruise meets Morgan Freeman ( Shawshank Redemption ), Nicholai Coster-Waldau - Game of Thrones and Zoe Bell (whose lines seem to have been cut from the final version of the film).
Tom Cruise is a Military public relations officer. When he disagrees with the General’s plan to send him to the front line, he is branded a deserter and left to the tender mercies of drill sergeant Bill Paxton ( Agents of SHIELD ). Cruise and a squad of expendables (including Jonas Armstrong - Robin Hood 2006 ) are sent into the meat-grinder, ambushed by aliens who knew they were coming and have tactics that negate the humans’ technological advantages.
Cruise gets contaminated by the aliens’ secret weapon - they have the ability to reset time. He also links up with super-soldier Emily Blunt , and discovers that her success was due to time travel too. She becomes a sort of a love-interest to him. This is never developed as a plot thread, and the compulsory sex scene from 1980s action films has been left out so it can get the 12A/PG13 rating that modern action movies are lumbered with.
Back on Earth, the great cities of America have been invaded. Luckily, even though the military get easily defeated one firefighter leads the fight back. He looks a bit like Dean Cain, but it turns out that he is a different actor. Presumably they could not afford the REAL Dean Cain. Yes, this is the cheaper version of him!
Robert Picardo ( Star Trek: Voyager ) is the US General who leads the human resistance in a counterattack against the alien invaders.
Trolls, the monsters of scandinavian folklore, are real. Well, convincingly portrayed though CGI. And since the cast has no stars, just talent, there is a convincing amount of tension on-screen.
Each Jaeger needs two pilots, whose actions are linked with a mind-meld. The mind-meld machine is necessary for plot reasons - it allows amped-up character interaction between the PTSD twins, and it allows a comedy-relief scientist to meld with a Kaiju brain.
Do these things not have ejection pods? Well, it turns out they do - but only when the plot demands it.
To put in some phony jeopardy and excessive character development, as well as unnecessary personal motivation, it turns out that BOTH the pilots have PTSD from previous encounters with Kaiju. Seriously? This is so much worse than in The Great Escape, where the tunnel-digger was claustrophobic and the forger was blind!
An oil rig in the North Atlantic is attacked by a giant monster. US Navy Admiral Graham Greene ( Wolf Lake ) orders a diverse trio of pilots (like in Stealth ) to search and destroy. David Cochaki from Baywatch is the lead man, who has a problem with authority figures and all the other clichés of the archetype. The token babe and token black guy are there to back him up.
After a couple of small fights, the monsters come back for a climactic battle. Meanwhile, the Admiral has an underling who wants to nuke the combat zone. Unfortunately, our heroes are in the middle of it ... on Manhatten island!
For all its problems, this low-budget knock-off is actually better than the original! Yes, dollar for dollar this effort gives better value for money than the Guillermo Del Toro movie.
Ten years later her husband (Bryan Cranston - Total Recall (2012) ) is a conspiracy theorist who thinks a gigantic Kaiju monster caused the tsunami. He loses his security clearance because he is clearly insane … However, it turns out that the Kaiju (AKA Gojiru, AKA God-Zilla) is real, and the US Military have been monitoring it for decades. Their own paranoid secrecy meant they ignored and blacklisted potentially the greatest scientist they could have recruited onto their team!
There is a far bigger threat to the world. Two other monsters are also on the loose. One looks like Cloverfield , while the other looks like the Alien Queen from Aliens . They are the male and female of a species, and they intend to breed. Unfortunately their species would be a super-predator, dominating the world. Worse, they will meet up in San Francisco, so just nuking them would be a bad idea. Not only would the bay area be rendered uninhabitable, but the San Andreas fault would dump most of the Western seaboard of the USA into the Pacific ocean. Only Gojira can save the world!
As well as the US military unit they also bring a British mercenary (Tom Hiddleston - Marvel Avengers ). Finally there is a war-protesting journalist - Brie Larson . She may seem like the token woman, and this film certainly fails the Bechdel test, but she actually has an important role in the story. Her role is a combination of the photographer (Jeff Bridges - True Grit (2010) ) and the beauty who bonds with Kong ( Jessica Lange ). All with no nudity but lots more explosions!
As depicted in the movie's trailer, the choppers have an apocalyptic run-in with Kong. However, this is only the setup for the main storyline. The survivors must get across the island to the pickup point.
There is an after-credits sequence that has a link with Godzilla (2014) . Yes, this is all setup for the third story in the series ... the ultimate crossover, next year's Kong versus Godzilla (2018) !
Our protagonists are Americans, trapped in Mexico and trying to get across the American border. Unfortunately the border area is now a no-man's land full of aliens that look like Giant Squids.
Thanks to imaginative SPFX the aliens, when they emerge, look more like jellyfish that glow in the dark.
Thankfully, there is no pretence of a phony romantic subplot. That kind of thing pervades action movies, which shoe-horn the token female character in as the hero's love interest. In this story, the girl is the boss's daughter and the man's job is to get her home or he will become unemployed.
The film introduces our heroes while they are at home for rest and recreation. Their home-town is Detroit, and they act like a street-gang out of Eight Mile. Then they get deployed in the desert. Helicopter travel, encounters with irate locals - this is like a Vietnam war movie. It seems evocative of Apocalypse Now ...
After fifty minutes of character development our heroes get sent on their big mission. These are not a bunch of stereotypical grunts that we expect to get killed off one at a time. They are well fleshed-out characters, and they are heavily armed. A fusilade of their 20mm shotguns and 40mm grenade-launchers can take down one of the massive alien creatures!
Eventually, Caesar (Andy Sirkis - King Kong 2005 ) falls foul of asshole neighbour David Hewlett ( Stargate Atlantis ). He winds up getting thrown into a primate detention centre run by American-accented Brits Brian Cox ( Manhunter, Troy ) and Draco Malfoy ( Harry Potter ). This is where the heartwarming family drama turns into a prison movie. Will Caesar outwit his captors, leading an ape revolt? Well, if you've seen the original or the trailer (or even the title!) then you'll know the answer.
This is far superior to Tim Burton 's reboot of the franchise. The CGI is good enough for Sirkis' performance to be mentioned as an award-worthy by critics. The plot works well, predictable as it may be. The cast is great, and tons of subtle references are thrown in.
Humans start moving back into the city of San Francisco. Gary Oldman ( Dark Knight Rises ) is in charge, reminiscent of John Malkovich’s character in Zombie Apocalypse comedy Warm Bodies . The humans need a power source to create electricity, because they have no supply of fuel for their generators. The wind-farms and solar panels are few and far between, so the only option is the hydro-electric dam in the forest ...
The humans try to make peace with Caesar and his clan. There are two major obstacles to this. Firstly, Oldman sends Kirk Acevedo ( 12 Monkeys ) who is the same gun-toting trigger-happy idiot he is in everything else. Seriously, this character thinks a six-shooter will make a difference when he is outnumbered a dozen to one!
The other problem is Koba, the scar-faced ape who was so memorable in the previous film. He is Caesar’s second in command. And what was the fate of the man Caesar was named after? Killed by people he trusted in a coup attempt ...
Caesar (Andy Sirkis - King Kong 2005 ) and a couple of his close friends set out on a vengeance quest. They ride their horses across a desolate landscape, which makes this film more than a little similar to a western. En route they pick up a couple of stragglers, a mute human girl and an unbalanced chimp named Bad Ape (Steve Zahn - Perfect Getaway ).
In the final act of the story, our protagonists find the secluded base of the crazy Special Forces Colonel. This is visually and thematically reminiscent of Apocalypse Now. In fact, there is an on-screen acknowledgement in the form of a graffetti scrawl that reads Ape-Pocalypse Now.
All in all, this is an excellent film that ties up the trilogy and yet can be enjoyed as a self-contained stand-alone story. It evokes the spirit of classic films, and does not fall short.