02nd Feb2021

‘Battle in Space: The Armada Attacks’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Doug Jones, Erik Palladino, Douglas Tait | Written by Josh Guttman, Andrew Jaksch, Lukas Kendall, Sanjay F. Sharma | Directed by Andrew Jaksch, Lukas Kendall, Toby Rawal, Scott Robson, Sanjay F. Sharma, Luis Tinoco

In recent years there’s been something of a surge in anthology movies, not your traditional anthology mind you, no, many new anthologies are actually made up of existing thematically connected shorts brought together with, oftentimes, a new wraparound filmed to tie these tales to each other. Films like Zombieworld and Galaxy of Horrors pioneered this type of filmmaking and in the five or so years that followed we’ve had plenty of other examples. And now comes a sci-fi take on the anthology film, Battle in Space: The Armada Attacks.

Made up of six shorts, Battle in Space‘s opener tells the story of how humanity spread across the universe after the discovery of hyper speed. Only it turns out we’re not the only people out there, in fact there’s a race of “space wizards” (the films words not mine) who have embrace magic instead of science. And now, in 2040, these space wizards rule the universe – this film giving us a snapshot of humanity’s efforts at “rebellion” against the dictatorial overlords.

And by snapshot, what Battle in Space really means is a series of unconnected shorts that are all set in the future and all of which focus on a different aspect of humanity’s struggle. The first short, originally titled The Boogeys, follows a man looking for his daughter in a world under the control of aliens. Very much akin to the noir-ish storytelling of Blade Runner, this short is an excellent way to kick off proceedings, balancing a low-budget, epic storytelling and fantastic effects work with aplomb.

Up next is a 2019 short, The Dark Following. Which follows two men with Jedi-like powers on the hunt for a crystal to collect the bounty on it. They’re hunters by motorbike-helmet wearing villains and they bicker about what to do with said crystal – use its power or cash it in for the bounty. Thalamos, the short that follows, is unfortunately the weakest of the bunch (mainly due to the fact its so short) – even though it has the most meaningful plot, dealing with the effects of space travel on mental health. The fact that such an important concept is wasted in a brief short that focuses on people arguing is a crying shame.

Thankfully Battle in Space picks up with its last two shorts. Sky Fighter, which originally debuted in 2019, is a superb slice of space paranoia – what is real, who can you trust – wrapped up in the story of the horrors of war with a even better sting in its tail. Whist the final short Caronte, is easily the best of the bunch – flipping back and forward between a girl in hospital after a car crash and a pilot in space trying to escape from an alien armada. However that’s not all there is to this story; focussing as it does on grief and coming to terms with loss…

Like Zombieworld and Galaxy of Horrors, Battle in Space: The Armada Attacks is a brilliant way to get short films, in this case four great shorts and two good ones, in front of a wider audience; and given the superb examples of not only filmmaking but effects work on display here, that can only be a good thing for audiences AND the filmmakers involved. If you liked the more cerebral sci-fi of Babylon 5 back in the day, you’ll really enjoy Battle in Space. I did.

Battle in Space: The Armada Attacks is available on demand and on DVD now, in the US, from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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