A poor-mans’s Arrival and Interstellar knock-off, unfortunately, this low-budget UK sci-fi has a few moments of impressive visuals but that’s about it, betraying the fact that it was written and directed by a guy who has worked as a visual effects supervisor. For the most part it is ruined by both its blatant ‘inspirations’ (which no doubt got the project green-lit) and its ill-conceived and ineptly executed script.
A wormhole (hello Interstellar) appears above the Earth and is somehow kept secret by the Space Agency that runs the ISS etc from the UK (!) until lots of giant alien spheres suddenly appear above cities etc down on Earth (hello Arrival). While the world appears to be on the brink of war, with the military heads world over itching to attack the spheres (hello again, Arrival) the Space Agency plans a secret (!) mission to enter the wormhole (hello again, Interstellar) and contact the aliens presumably responsible for populating the Earth with floating Death Stars. For some reason deciding that humans aren’t up to the ordeal, it is reasoned that cyborgs, robots with human brains placed into their metal craniums, will make the trip instead. Just as well we have all this handy tech in the year 2019.
I can only imagine that it was at the behest of the budget, but the choice of shooting the film as a fly-on-the-wall docudrama is a big mistake, reducing much of it to a literal talking-heads piece. I mean, really, it seems to go on forever listening to ‘scientists’ chatting to the camera-crew about what they think is going on. How in the world this camera-crew happens to be filming this ultra-top secret event (allowed to film the preparations for First Contact even when, outside the Space Agency, no-one on the planet knows the wormhole is even up there, amateur astronomers the world over presumably looking the other way) is beyond me. And its rather hysterical seeing the POV camera prowling the garden of the Space Agency chief and sneaking shots through the marigolds as she talks to a candidate for the First Contact mission over tea on her patio. Please, please, don’t get me started about the space-physics implications of a second Earth appearing right by us and being told that Venus and Mars etc have suddenly ‘disappeared’. Who writes this silly stuff and thinks they can get away with it?
So anyway, it looks good -even great in places- and therefore looks the part of a Hollywood blockbuster but it really needs a script, and a director who can direct actors. This film has neither. Its truly woeful in places and its simply betraying the fact that it was dreamed-up after watching Arrival and Interstellar and that its essentially just a tech demo for some CGI effects rigs. Which is infuriating, because if you’re given the money to make a movie like this, you should make the most of that money by doing a character-driven piece, an intelligent, low-budget drama. Don’t pretend you can be as flashy as the big boys and expect that to be enough.
But its free on Netflix so if you want to blow your mind at how bad-but-pretty modern sci-fi can be, go knock yourself out. But you’ve been warned!