Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Gareth Edwards.
Starring John David Washington, Madeleine Yuna Voyles, Gemma Chan.
Science-Fiction, US, 133 minutes, certificate 12.


Released in cinemas in the UK 28th September by 20th Century Studios.


After making a splash with his debut with the personal and affecting low-budget wonder MONSTERS, Gareth Edwards seemed to have been swallowed up by the Hollywood studio machine to helm such franchise flicks as GODZILLA. Seven years have passed since ROGUE ONE, the last good Star Wars film. Rumours of copious reshoots and of Edwards being locked out of the editing room suggested that the Hollywood system and Edwards were an ill-fitting match, with the promising director forced into some creative exile. What a pleasant surprise then when trailers seemed to pop up out of nowhere this summer announcing that Edwards was returning with that all too rare beast: an original, non-franchise big, big-budget blockbuster.


Edwards' return to the big screen could not be timelier with this fantastical look at AI, a subject that never seems to be far from the headlines these days. Here, we are propelled into a future where artificial intelligence has accelerated and gained awareness to such a degree that it has declared war on humanity by detonating a nuclear warhead in Los Angeles. An act of terror that has caused it to be completely outlawed in the Western world. This defensive act is at odds with New Asia, which continues to embrace the always-developing technology, causing the US to develop NOMAD, a powerful floating weapons system that tracks down any machine threats. Caught up in all of this is Joshua, an ex-soldier who has lost more than most in the conflict and is tasked years later to track down an all-powerful new weapon created by the AI’s mysterious messiah. When he discovers this new weapon, however, he is shocked to discover a small, seemingly innocent robotic child who has the potential to change the world forever.


Sci-fi nerds will no doubt spot the disparate influences on display here, whether it is the shining cityscapes that recall AKIRA and the GHOST IN THE SHELL anime or the melding of high-tech robots and vehicles set against pastoral backgrounds reminiscent of Simon Stalenhag’s TALES FROM THE LOOP art books. Even the recent WESTWORLD series' preoccupation with machine learning and design work influenced by Jeff Lemire’s comic book DESCENDER are mixed in here to create a film, when combined with its highly affecting and emotional storylines, still adds up to one of the most original and impressive big budget films that easily stands out and above the usual standard of blockbusters.


Easily his most personal film since his debut, Edwards has taken the shoot-and-run style of MONSTERS and layered in convincing digital effects over many stunning locations. This results in a more tactile style of film making that stands well apart from the usual, and usually unconvincing, green screen method that populates effects-driven blockbusters. That Edwards has pulled all of this off for only eighty million dollars, a relatively small amount for a sci-fi blockbuster, makes this more of an impressive achievement that deserves to find a massive audience.


Not only an exciting comeback for Edwards, but this could also be an exciting new approach for big-budget blockbusters if the studios take more notice of how and what he has achieved here. Affecting, exciting and spectacular, this is an all-too-rare exception in big-budget genre cinema that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen and shows just what Edwards is capable of when left to his own devices.


Iain MacLeod.


This web site is owned and published by London FrightFest Limited.


FrightFest is the registered trade mark of London FrightFest Limited.

© 2000 - 2024

Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans