Director: Simon Cox
Starring: Simon Haycock, Roxi Drive, Julie Hoult, Danny Steele, Sophie Anderson, Ian Brooker and Toyah Wilcox
Run time: 1h 38m
Grieving couple Tom (Haycock) and Mandy (Drive) are still reeling from the loss of their young daughter, but are given a second chance at parenthood as Mandy reveals her unexpected pregnancy. This ray of light shines amidst a dark world on the brink of war with America, China and Russia at each other’s throats for reasons unknown, but before Tom has the chance to get his head around his recent good news, things start to unravel. The Care Centre he’s a doctor at is suddenly closed down leaving numerous patients with mental health issues vulnerable, and, oh yes, aliens invade Earth.
That’s right. Spaceships arrive causing select people to have visions about an upcoming apocalypse and worldwide pandemonium breaks out. Tom finds himself taken by the visitors, along with some of his patients (all of whom are now miraculously cured of their afflictions) and in desperate need to return to Earth and save his wife and unborn child.
It’s important to note that Invasion Planet Earth has taken many years to make. Well over 10, in fact. Director and writer Simon Cox used social media to crowdfund his project and can count as many as 100 producers attached to the film. Whilst it’s an admirable accomplishment to make a science-fiction movie on this scale with a limited budget, it, sadly, doesn’t reach the ambitious heights aimed for.
The scale is impressive and director of photography Gordon Hickie takes full advantage of some cinematic landscapes whilst the special effects, particularly the explosions and scenes in space, are a magnificent achievement considering the purse strings were tight. It’s just a shame the same care and attention wasn’t used on the clichéd screenplay which is weak and takes itself way too seriously. It’s missing the self-aware spark that comes with the subject matter and needed more humour to lighten up the darker elements.
Flashbacks and dream sequences add to the confusion of the narrative which is never fully explained in any detail and raises numerous plot questions that aren’t answered. Hollywood films such as Independence Day, War of the Worlds and World War Z are nicely referenced (indeed, one chase sequence is quite a spectacle) and there’s a triumphant score by Benjamin Symons often upstaging the action.
Haycock does well, but doesn’t quite have the leading man qualities to hold a feature together yet (he shows a lot of promise and hopefully more experience will help here) and the excellent Drive doesn’t get enough screen time in a role that deserved to be bigger. In fact, I can’t help but think how much better the film would have been if she had been the one destined to save her family.
Invasion Planet Earth should be applauded for its intentions and Simon Cox has bags of potential as a director but, frustratingly, it’s too often brought crashing down to Earth by a script that reaches for the stars, but fails to take-off.
Invasion Planet Earth attacks select UK cinemas from December 5th, is available on Digital Download from 16th December & DVD from 30th December