Battalion (Video on Demand) Movie Review
Science Fiction and War type movies are difficult to do on a tight budget. Especially when they are done for around 50,000 Australian Dollars. The result is a very decent attempt at watchable movie. But the crude special effects, rough acting ability and jumbled plot lines are all working against the independent release called “Battalion”. This mixed-up mash-up of lots of other (and better) movies make this one DOA. Seeing that other movies, such as “Independence Day”, “Battle: Los Angeles”, “Starship Troopers” and even “Skyline” have done this same thing before, make this movie limp into the starting gate, just to go nowhere.
The story is as such: John Blake (Jesse Richardson) is a cool surfer dude style slacker in sunny California. Tracey Gleeson (Ellen Williams) is a lecturer at an Ivy League school in New England. John has a ‘brother’ named Chris Jackson (Michael Thomson), and Chris is a Marine. He is like a brother because the Jackson family took John in as a little boy when his parents died. Chris is very moody due to the war he has been fighting in South Africa. Tracey is wondering with her first date about the meaning of life and if there is a parallel universe. But then the low-rent special effects take over to show that an alien race of robots come to Earth to destroy everything.
The alien spaceships come from a parallel universe and destroy much of L.A. thus killing Chris Jackson’s family, and John Blake’s adopted family. Chris goes back to fight, because – after all – he is a Marine. And guess what? John and Tracey both join up, and they enter the Marines. But they are sent to train with… you guessed it Chris Jackson. And he will take no Schlitz from nobody. The training ramps up, and they all go into combat. Located of course in Australia. There are some magnificent views of the beautiful shoreline and the wonderful areas in Australia and New Zealand. But they keeps getting ruined by coming back to a second-rate story and Grade-Z level ‘special effects’.
Lots of fades to black later, the story gets to a time where Chris finally goes nuts, Johns steps up to lead, and Tracey is the only one who can face off and sacrifice to stop the aliens. It all works out, sort of, in the end. Much of the world is destroyed, and more fighting must continue, but John is no longer a slacker out to play rooftop football. How inspiring!
I must give the guys behind this some credit to come up with a (mostly) original story with a Sci-Fi twist and with War of the World themes. But overall, the production values are very low-rent. The special effect CGI could have been done better with “Call of Duty” graphics. The ADR (post production voice dubbing) is bad. Even the scenes inside a car, looking out a moving image on a ‘green screen’ are troublesome. The time sequence is all over the place, with starting in the present, then going back seven months and then cutting back and forth at random.
The acting is nothing awful, but it could be better. Ellen Williams has a bit of charm with her role as Tracey, and Jesse Richardson has the surfer dude life down pat. Also, Michael Thomson has some biting lines as Chris – who is suffering from a complete lack of hope and sinking into a depression. But there are many ‘Down-Under’ actors doing many of the other roles, and quite often the accent comes out here and there. Even if they are supposed to be American Marines, or what not…
This movie is attempting to make its life running as ‘Video on Demand’ . Good on Ya Mate! But next time, don’t so much for shrimp to throw on the barbie… Try to get a few more bucks for the special effects, righty-oh?
Written and Directed by: Michael Miller
Starring: Jesse Richardson, Ellen Williams, Michael Thomson
Length: 93 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for profanity, drinking, and war scenes