16th Jan2018

‘Battalion’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jesse Richardson, Ellen Williams, Michael Thomson, James Storer, Leigh Walker, Darrell Plumridge, Samuel Peacock, Katie Anderson | Written and Directed by Michael Miller

Battalion-Key-Art

Obviously inspired by Independence Day and Pacific Rim, and no doubt released now to cash-in on the subsequent sequel which is coming very soon, Battalion is a low-budget sci-fi action flick from Australia that feels for all intents and purposes like a mockbuster from The Asylum…

Battalion sees Earth invaded and a devastating attack launched on Los Angeles by an army of machines from a parallel universe. This – of course – sparks a massive world war, which in turn leads to Californian surfer John Blake joining up with the US Marines to head across the Pacific to join the fight against the machines in Australia… Why? Well the budget didn’t stretch to an overseas filming trip probably.

I jest of course, but that is the major issue with Battalion. It’s an alien invasion movie that tries to show a GLOBAL invasion on a budget that even the aforementioned The Asylum would struggle to make such a film with. If you want to make an alien invasion movie without much money, why not make it on a small scale – tell a more human story perhaps? Yes this film does focus on the “hero” John Blake and the members of his Army unit (including his love interest, yawn) but the film still tries to be bigger than it ever needed to be. If you want to tell John’s story, tell it. Don’t try and be the Aussie version of Independence Day!

Yes, the special effects in Battalion might be impressive for such a low budget movie, but it’s just a shame the film doesn’t have anything else to hold you attention. The overall story is dull, the cast feel like they’re just going through the motions, offering no emotional depth to their performances, and the direction falls flat. It’s almost like Battalion was put together more as an effects showreel rather than a feature film – the story feels, beyond its “mockbuster” core, almost secondary to everything else.

Sadly even the SFX aspect of the film is unfortunately abandoned at times! Whilst there are some effects-laden action set pieces scattered throughout the film, Battalion spends more time talking about the alien invasion and its consequences than actually seeing it… The entire globe is slowly being taken over and all we know of that is a conversation between two soldiers at a bar, discussing which continent has been conquered and which army unit is now annihilated!

When we do see the aliens, some look like Robocop wannabes (the new Robocop, not Peter Weller’s version) and others are a cross between drones and the insect creatures of Starship Troopers, bouncing around the screen, screeching as they go. And although they do look good, I did have one question…. All these aliens seem to be easily taken out by regular machine guns, so why the hell are the gun-toting army STILL losing the fight? There are scenes where it takes one shot, yes one shot, from a machine gun to take down an alien; and yet somehow they’re still taking over the planet. That’s just one of the many inconsistencies that exist within Battalion!

It’s difficult to be so down on a film that is obviously a labour of love, but it’s hard to recommend Battalion. Too po-faced and too dull to for its own good, the film is available on VOD across the US now.

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