TL;DR – This is fun adventure flick in the tradition of saving the world being thrust upon young people. A fun cast, a good set up, and a good use of world building.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
If you have read this site before you will know I am a fan of the alien invasion genre, indeed Independence Day is one of my top ten films of all time. So I am always interested to see different takes on the genre, to see where they can take the formula. Today we are looking at the newest Netflix film based around this very scenario, but also more than many films I have seen this year, Rim of the World both knows what it is and what it wants to do, and at all times it succeeds in these core drives.
So to set the scene, we open on the first day of summer camp as kids from around Los Angeles and further come together to have a fun time away. Alex (Jack Gore) is a space enthusiast who likes to live in his world of screens, but there is a reason for his isolation. Zhen Zhen (Miya Cech) has secretly flown across the Pacific to attend the camp in an attempt to overcome her disappointed father. Dariush (Benjamin Flores Jr.) is full of bluster, the rich kid that has it all, and cares more about his sneakers than other humans, but then it is all a shield. There is also Gabriel (Alessio Scalzotto) who no one quite knows why he is here. Rim of the World adventure camp is full of zip lines, canoe rides, and camp counsellors that may have needed more of a background check before starting work, so your usual summer camp. However, while all that is happening the International Space Station is being destroyed because entering high orbit is an alien mothership and as people will find out as the sky explodes, they are not here to make new friends.
Rim of the World comes from a long line of films like The Goonies where the kids have to step
up because no one else can. With this in mind, it means that much of this film
is based around the dynamics of the core four, and here is where a film like
this lives or dies. Thankfully they are all written to be completely relatable
once you get to see their motivations. You know (okay maybe they overplay this
a bit too much) that Alex is coming from a place of trauma and that trauma is a
core driver for him. It is one of the reasons he is being sent to the camp because
his mother (Annabeth Gish) is trying to get him to connect with other people.
Zhen Zhen has probably the most sense out of all of the group but she has had
to learn those skills because she feels abandoned by her family. Gabriel is
distant but he has had to find strength on his own because no one else is there
to help him, making trust difficult. However, I am not sure they got the right
balance with Dariush, it is clear that all this bluster is a shield, but it
takes a bit too long to reveal what it is shielding. This leads to some really
awkward and often times off-putting dialogue choices for him towards the start
of the film.
The story is not really a difficult narrative to grasp, a key is thrust into the hands of four kids who then have to take it across hostile territory all the while being hunted by one of the aliens. However, while the structure might be easy to grasp, it does not mean that this is a shallow film by any stretch of the imagination. This is because the film is focused on the kids and their journey both literally in them trying to get the JPL labs, but also as characters developing. So the film is happy spending the time in that moment of joy when Alex learns how to ride a bike because that slow build makes everything that comes later feel earned. It is also good that on the whole the characters are written to be sensible, for example trying to get the key to the right authorities first, well as sensible as teenagers in this situation would be. One thing I did find interesting is the tone because there are some big shifts throughout the film. There are moments where it gets real, real fast. On the whole, a lot of the carnage happens off-screen and it is just noises, but some of it is right up and in your face. Given this is focused on more of the younger audience it will be interesting to see how that plays out with people.
area where Rim of the World shines is
in the production, which does quite a bit on what is comparatively a very small
budget for this kind of film. Because of the budget, the filmmakers have to be
careful and pick their moments, so you will get a lot of wide shot matte
paintings before a more close up areas of set that is dressed in the real. As a
way of building tension through visual storytelling, it is really quite
effective. When they need those moments to punctuate the tension you will get
shots of the aerial battle but they know just when to add them in. The big
effects addition is the main alien and here it is quite serviceable. I’m sure they
would have liked some more time getting that skin texture more realistic, but
considering how much they are in the film and the budget, it is quite a feat to
get it looking this good. Because this is a film that is slyly winking at films
of the past, it was good to hear that echoed in the musical score by Bear
McCreary. Bear’s score looks back to a time when the music was less in the
background and more in your face. Indeed, his score is the first thing we get
in the film and it immediately sets the tone for what is about to come.
In the end, do we recommend Rim of the World? Yes, yes we do. There are times when you watch a film and you get overcome by this infectious joy, this is Rim of the World. You become invested in wanting to see those kids succeed. It is a bit silly in places, sure, does it not quite get those tone shifts right maybe, but I don’t really care. I wanted to see these kids succeed, I wanted to see them get their Whitmore Speech moment, I wanted to see them triumph over the things that are holding them back, and I wanted to see them find that family that they were missing.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
Have you watched Rim of the World?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Rim of the World
Directed by – McG
Screenplay by – Zack Stentz
Music by – Bear McCreary
Cinematography by – Shane Hurlbut
Edited by – Vincent Tabaillon
Production/Distribution Companies – Netflix & Wonderland Sound and Vision
Starring – Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr., Alessio Scalzotto, Dean Jagger, King Bach, Lynn Collins, Annabeth Gish, Michael Beach, Scott MacArthur, Allan Graf, Michael Papajohn, Tony Cavalero & Andrea Susan Bush
Rating – Australia: M