22nd Aug2014

Frightfest 2014: ‘Shockwave Darkside 3D’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Bill Sage, Mei Melançon, Sonequa Martin-Green, Rich Ceraulo, Alexander Cendese | Written and Directed by Jay Weisman


Earth. 2013. Some guy sits in his basement flat in a proverbial state of unemployment. His only goal? To perfect his game of Halo. Mission completed. So what next? Earth. 2014. Said unemployed guy has pumped all his energy into a sci-fi movie, shot in 3D and to be screened at Frightfest. The result? A film that looks, feels and sounds like a game of Halo!

And that, in a nutshell, is Shockwave Darkside 3D. Although to be fair, the official synopsis makes the film sound a hell of a lot more exciting:

The nano-plague that poisoned Earth’s water supply has reached its 60-year critical mass. The Unlight enemy forced the first exodus to the moon where the outlawed banished population was supposed to die. But now the Unlights have launched from Earth and are amassing on the south-west sector of the darkside of the moon for a massive ice-mining operation. It will be the last Great War and lunar troops are sent into battle for the precious resource. However one squad is shot down and the five surviving soldiers find themselves stranded. Cut off and behind enemy lines, they start a dangerous journey through snipers and minefields back to their extraction point with only 36 hours of oxygen left. As their numbers dwindle and nerves fray, they make an amazing discovery about Earth’s satellite that just might save their lives.

See, exciting right? Well that’s not what is translated to the screen. Instead we get a squad of space marines dressed in suits that look like they’re made of cardboard and have been inspired by Halo’s Master Chief and the original Action Man Space Ranger doll from the late 70s, plodding around an abandoned quarry somewhere in England whilst spouting one-line sting and call-outs in EXACTLY the same manner as characters do in video games. And like a lot of modern video games, Shockwave Darkside 3D also doesn’t have an actual plot. There’s no hook on which to hang the action, no characters well-rounded enough to give a damn about. In video game terms we’re playing Call of Duty, not The Last of Us.

Moment of honesty folks: I didn’t make it all the way to the end of the film. Between the cruddy 3D which, for the very first time, gave me a headache, and the ridiculous lack of interesting story, I couldn’t make it further than halfway through the films 92 minute runtime. The “dramatic” card-playing scene, which ended with over-the-top music and a mid-film fade to black ended it for me. I couldn’t take any more. But then I shouldn’t really have been surprised. Shockwave Darkside 3D comes from the same producers that made last years bloody awful Banshee Chapter 3D (although this is infinitely worse). Someone needs to tell these guys 3D is NOT a replacement for a story. Seriously.

First-person shooter tropes, including on-screen character bios and a heads up display with a countdown to the “end-of-level”, don’t belong in cinema. Hell, they didn’t even work in a movie based on an FPS game, why would anyone think they’d work in a low-budget British sci-fi movie. Lensed in the same style as Space: 1999 and Power Rangers, aka in a quarry, with CGI that look exactly like CGI (CGI that rips off the aforementioned Space: 1999 and LEGO of all things) Shockwave Darkside 3D is an abysmal failure on all counts.

Avoid. At all costs.


2 Responses to “Frightfest 2014: ‘Shockwave Darkside 3D’ Review”

  • James Cameron

    I strongly disagree with your review. I thought this movie was delightful.

  • Ona Mar

    I saw it and once I forgot that it was not supposed to be the latest 200,000,000 movie I enjoyed it. Solid acting from Ms. Sonequa, Ms. Mei and Mr. Richard.