Revolt

For inSing

REVOLT 

Director : Joe Miale
Cast : Lee Pace, Bérénice Marlohe, Jason Flemyng, Kenneth Fok, Noko ‘Flow’ Mabitsela, Barileng Malebye
Genre : Sci-fi/action
Run Time : 87m
Opens : 28 September 2017
Rating : PG13

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Lee Pace played the marauding alien warlord Ronan the Accuser. In this film, the tables are turned, and Pace instead plays a soldier defending earth from alien invaders. Pace’s character awakes in a Kenyan jail cell with amnesia – he is referred to as ‘Bo’ because those two letters are written on his sleeve. In the cell next to Bo’s is Nadia (Marlohe), a French medic whose family died when Paris was decimated by the aliens. Bo and Nadia fend off not only vicious extra-terrestrial forces, but also hostile warlords, poachers and mercenaries. The pair makes their way to Nairobi to rendezvous with a group of rebel soldiers, making a desperate last stand for humanity.

Revolt is directed by Joe Miale, from a screenplay by Miale and Rowan Athale. The Dutch production draws inspiration from numerous military science fiction films. Grimy, bloody and often chaotic, Revolt has the aesthetic sensibilities of something like District 9 or Battle: Los Angeles. The war-ravaged African landscape is convincing, and the visual effects by Automatik VFX are excellent for the budget. The design of the aliens themselves is interesting: they’re skeletal and mechanical, and not overly humanoid, but interesting to look at and sufficiently, well, alien.

The main problem with Revolt is just how generic it all is. Many clichés associated with the war movie and sci-fi genres are present and accounted for, right down to the mysterious amnesia-stricken hero. The film is not intended to look gorgeous or polished, but even at a lean 87 minutes, its visual monotony makes it feel like a bit of a slog. This is to say nothing of the fact that the film is set in Kenya and the heroes are white, with the vast majority of the black characters being straight-up evil and vicious.

The biggest novelty factor that Revolt possesses is that Pace is playing a traditional square-jawed action hero role. Pace acquits himself well, and it’s not unlike Adrien Brody bulking up to fight aliens in the jungle in Predators. There are moments when Pace seems out of his element, for the most part, he’s believably tough and even under duress is quite charming.

Marlohe, who was recently seen in Kill Switch, seems to be seeking out low-mid-budget science fiction films. Her line delivery is somewhat stilted, but it’s easy to buy her as someone who can handle herself competently in a combat situation. While it initially seems like an interesting back-and-forth might develop between Bo and Naomi, it does not, and the poorly-developed relationship between the two characters feels like another big missed opportunity.

This reviewer enjoys seeking out smaller-scale sci-fi action films because it can be fun watching filmmakers problem-solve their way around limited resources, while delivering the spectacle associated with the genre. There’s some joy to be derived from Revolt where that is concerned, but the film is overwhelmingly, almost aggressively generic. We would recommend it to all the Lee Pace fangirls out there, though.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Kill Switch

For F*** Magazine

KILL SWITCH 

Director : Tim Smit
Cast : Dan Stevens, Bérénice Marlohe, Charity Wakefield, Tygo Gernandt
Genre : Action/Sci-Fi
Run Time : 1h 31min
Opens : 24 August 2017
Rating : PG13 (Some Coarse Language And Violence)

Dan Stevens looks set to be 2017’s breakout leading man. This year alone, The Downtown Abbey star can be seen in Beauty and the Beast, Colossal, The Ticket, Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, Permission, Marshall and The Man Who Invented Christmas. He’s also on TV, playing the lead in Legion. In this sci-fi action thriller, Stevens must stop the implosion of existence as we know it.

 

It is the year 2043, and Will Porter (Stevens), a physicist and pilot, is recruited by the massive corporation Alterplex. The company is on a mission to harness energy from parallel universes, hiring Will to travel to a realm known as ‘the Echo’. The experiment goes awry, and Will finds himself being pursued by a phalanx of heavily-armed mercenaries, and waves of deadly drones. Will must transport a mysterious obsidian box called the ‘Redivider’, which functions as a kill switch, to Alterplex’s tower. If he fails, his sister Mia (Wakefield) and her young son, not to mention the entire population of the world, will perish. Will discovers that Abigail Vos (Marlohe), the Alterplex employee who recruited him, might not be all she claims. Amidst the chaos, a rebel organisation that plans to undermine Alterplex might just be Will’s only hope.

Kill Switch is based on director Tim Smit’s 2009 short film What’s in the Box? Filmed from a first-person perspective, What’s in the Box? garnered considerable interest online because of the possibility that it was linked to the long-rumoured video game Half-Life 3 (it was not). The feature-length version is a perplexing, frustrating, but intriguing film. All the action scenes are filmed from a first-person perspective, giving this a video game-like feel. Because it’s set in two parallel worlds and of the queasiness-inducing factor of filming chaotic, frenetic shootouts and pursuits in that format, Kill Switch is disorienting and is far harder to follow than it should be.

Smit is a visual effects artist whose first feature film is Kill Switch, and it’s an ambitious debut. Shot in the Netherlands with a largely Dutch crew and several Dutch actors in the cast, the computer-generated effects work is solid and rivals Hollywood productions with much larger budgets. There are certain glimmers of cleverness: the original title of the film was ‘Redivider’ which, like the name ‘Tim Smit’, is a palindrome. Unfortunately, Smit’s focus is clearly trained on the visual effects spectacle, with the plot suffering as a result. While the screenplay by Charlie Kindinger and Omid Nooshin packs in exposition to explain the sci-fi workings of it all, it’s still tough to make head or tail of the proceedings.

Stevens has an intensity to him that sets him apart from the bland, cookie cutter action leads Hollywood who are sometimes hyped as ‘the next big thing’. He takes this far more seriously than he hast to. The unique thing about the role is that because all the action scenes are filmed in the first-person perspective, he doesn’t perform any of the action, merely providing the voiceover for those scenes.

Marlohe, best-known for playing a Bond girl in Skyfall, makes for a stiff femme fatale. Interestingly, Will is not in a romantic relationship with any of the female characters in the film, which is another element that differentiates Kill Switch from the average action thriller. Mia is Will’s sister, when in any other film, that character would be the male lead’s wife instead. It’s a shame that Will’s bond with his sister and nephew gets insufficient development, and the potentially emotional scenes fall flat.

Low-to-mid-budget science fiction films usually pique this reviewer’s curiosity, since conventional wisdom dictates that futuristic films are expensive to pull off convincingly. Kill Switch is sporadically fun, the visual effects are confidently and competently executed, and Smit shows considerable promise in an audacious debut. However, the first-person perspective gimmick wears out its welcome all too quickly, and the gee whiz sci-fi plot is confusingly rendered.

Summary: Recommended only for curious sci-fi fans, Kill Switch boasts impressive production values that are in service of a muddled narrative.

RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong