The invasion began thousands of years ago. We’re a part of it, but what are we fighting for and against whom? New to VOD and home release, ‘The Blackout: Invasion Earth’ offers slick looking Russian sci-fi action.
Films whose plots centre around the alien invasion trope are in bountiful supply. From big budget titles like ‘Independence Day’ to low-budget cult hits like ‘Beyond Skyline’, they commonly share a familiar story. Aliens visit Earth with the intentions of wiping out human life in order to take over the planet, a small group incorporating, but not limited to, civilians, military meatheads and genius nerds form a plan to thwart the attack.
‘The Blackout: Invasion Earth’ doesn’t stray too far from this common ground either. A freak event leaves all but a small portion of Eastern Europe in total blackness. No electricity and no means of communication. When it becomes apparent that all life outside of this circle has become hostile a defence parameter is installed.
In order to understand what is happening beyond the “circle of life” small military units are sent into the blackout zone to set up camps and open lines of communication. In an unforgiving terrain and facing huge odds the teams are soon diminished with little hope of survival.
When all seems lost a strange being provides insight into Earth’s true enemy with revelations that re-write history as we know it. But the biggest threat is just hours away.
Ignoring my better judgement and based on nothing but pure laziness and the misconception that I might multi-task whilst watching ‘The Blackout: Invasion Earth’, I plumped for the version of the film dubbed into English. This was a mistake. Mere minutes into the 2 hour 7 minute runtime I was compelled to revert to the original Russian dialogue with English subtitles and accept that this film would require my full attention. To be fair, my full attention was held.
Directors, Egor Baranov and Nathalia Hencker, present a visually stunning film. A futuristic vision of Moscow is clearly influenced by Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’. Clever use of neon lighting provides atmosphere and depth. The skies are filled with drones and flying vehicles navigate between soaring skyscrapers.
This futuristic vision is juxtaposed by the landscape that lies beyond the circle’s perimeter. Here we find a bleak outlook where buildings are crumbling. Vehicles are abandoned. It’s inhabitants are people turned violent with a singular hive-mind mentality. Intent only on killing anyone not plugged into their collective state.
Action is presented in abundance through a significant military presence. Armoured vehicles, impressive looking helicopters, rocket launchers, machine guns, knives, a hoard of attacking bears… yes, bears! There are enough explosions to satiate even the most enthusiastic fan of explosions.
Despite the impressive arsenal, it comes down to a small group battling seemingly insurmountable odds to save the day. Put aside the clever lighting, loud bangs and explosions and ultimately you’re left with a standard alien invasion plot. Mostly…
What plays out on-screen is largely standard fair. Where credit should be given is to the writer’s attempts at an original backstory. There are subtle nuances to the writing that elevate ‘The Blackout: Invasion Earth’ above other alien invasion movies. A clever reveal regarding the origins of the human race and loose links to Egyptian mythology and the purpose of religion provide substance that could easily be missed between wild action scenes.
This is a film that unashamedly pays tribute to some of sci-fi greatest hits. ‘Blade Runner’, Stargate’, ‘Alien’. Even ‘Predator’ is referenced.
Beautiful to look at, fast-paced with a story that attempts to be far grander than many will give credit for. This isn’t a humans vs aliens in a traditional sense. It’s a bit smarter. All of this sadly undermined by a few unnecessary moments of cringe-worthy chauvinism.
‘The Blackout: Invasion Earth’ – available now on Blu-Ray, DVD and via digital platforms.