There’s a certain unique devotion that the sci-fi genre attracts that sets it apart from other thematic classifications within the realms of cinema. And given just how much effort Invasion Planet Earth managed in order to be finished and released – 20 years of production, seven crowdfunding campaigns, and hours of pro-bono work from filmmaker Simon Cox‘s friends and family – it’s hard to deny the film its due from the aspect of tenacity and perseverance.
When the film begins and we’re witness to questionable effects and acting, it’s understandable to worry if the rest of the film will follow suit, so thankfully we come to learn this is merely a faux TV program – one titled “Kaleidoscope Man”, an action series that wouldn’t have felt out of place in the afternoons of the early 90’s – that, in some ways, foreshadows the catastrophic events that are to come. Thankful as we may be however, the effects and acting don’t exactly improve when the actual story commences.
Those events involve alien invasion, and it proves a right pickle for London psychiatrist Tom Dunn (Simon Haycock) and a handful of his eccentric patients who are eventually abducted by said aliens, though for what reason we are never privy to. Given the evident passion behind the film for director/writer/editor Cox, it’s commendable at what he’s achieved with such limited resources, and it works best when you convince yourself that he leaned into the cheap effects for the sake of feeling old-fashioned and deliberate; think Doctor Who on a shoestring budget.
Less successful is the fact that Cox’s enthusiasm hasn’t been contained, and there’s a messiness to the overall narrative that stifles it from having a clear streamline. Not enough clarity or explanation for an overindulgence of exposition only adds to the film’s flaws, which unfortunately also includes the majority of the acting. Haycock’s every-man feels like he’s on auto-pilot of most of the movie – even when he learns that his wife (Lucy Drive) is pregnant he fails to emote, and this is after we learn they’ve suffered a tragedy that took the life of their infant daughter – and the patients that are abducted alongside him don’t aim for subtlety, although they can at least have unbridled “fun” with their various disorders.
Invasion Planet Earth is a tricky film to critique. Whilst the questionable effects and less-than acting leave it open for easy ridicule, Cox’s ludicrous ambition has to at least be acknowledged and commended. This isn’t a good film, and even if it was stacked with an A-list cast and expensive CGI the overloaded story would leave it open for much criticism, but it’s bizarrely entertaining, even if it is for all the wrong reasons.
TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Invasion Planet Earth is available to rent or buy now from various digital platforms, including Google Play, iTunes, and YouTube.