Invasion Planet Earth (2019) – Film Review

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Director: Simon Cox
Cast: Simon Haycock, Lucy Drive, Julie Hoult
Certificate 12A

By Roger Crow

Sci-fi fans with long memories may recall Invasion: Earth, the mid-1990s British TV answer to Independence Day. That offering, created by The Bodyguard/Line of Duty’s Jed Mercurio, pretty much vanished without a trace.

Now we have a new low budget British thriller which recalls elements from that cult TV series, and also feels like Skyline, the US alien invasion thriller from a few years ago.

It starts rather well, despite annoying flash frame images of Earth.

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“Not constrained by the small budget”

Anyone who grew up in the 1970s or 1980s will be reminded of those 2000AD, Mach 1 bionic-style stickers of circuitry you used to stick on a limb, then rip half your arm hair off, and the large plastic electronic model Starbird. These elements are referenced in-between scenes from ‘Kaleidoscope Man’, a Galaxy Quest-style show within a film.

What unfolds is an epic adventure boasting some impressive visuals. Co-Writer/director Simon Cox has done a good job of crafting a saga that is not constrained by the small budget. Okay, there are times when it suffers from actors standing around reacting to effects shots, and it could have done with more comic relief, but full marks for effort, especially during scenes involving zombies and army troops.

The cast range from okay to good. Apparently this was in the making for 17 years, and with more than 100 producers and patrons involved, it’s a tribute to the power of crowdfunding.

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The plot centres on grieving dad Tom Dunn. Following the death of his daughter, he’s thrilled when his wife falls pregnant again. But the happiness is short lived as terrifying visions of the apocalypse suggest a hint of what’s to come.

Cue a vast alien mothership which launches an attack on Earth’s cities.

It’s unsurprising that this was originally called ‘Kaleidoscope Man’. Those opening shots give us a hint of what the film might have been. A tribute to the escapist TV millions grew up on, from The Six Million Dollar Man and Buck Rogers, to Blake’s Seven and Star Trek.

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“Impressive support”

Simon Cox started work on the project in the 1990s, and at times it feels a bit Babylon 5; impressive visuals but all a little too pixel perfect. Give me old school models on wires any day.

It’s good to see Toyah Willcox involved (she co-stars and adds a closing song), while Cox received impressive support in the design department from Matt Allsopp (Rogue One).

It’s bound to attract a cult following, and I wouldn’t be surprised if SyFy snaps it up at some point.

I also hope the filmmakers land more projects off the back of it. A few more laughs next time, and I’ll quite happily beam aboard the follow up. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another 17 years to get made.

Special Effects8
'Invasion Planet Earth' will be available on Digital Download from 16th December and DVD from 30th December

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