Disclaimer: It's Christmas eve, eve 2017, and I have a cold. I can't sleep, so I'm trying to make it through Revolt while I type up a review simply because I can. This has, clearly, become far too detailed for a film that could easily been avoided, but it's also become a bit of a primer of the Cinema Sins variety. So, if you're going to sit through Revolt, take this along with you, and then let me know how many times you hit skip. Be honest. I'll know if you're lying.
1. The design of the machines and their mechanics is an interesting take on the good ol' alien invasion theme - dainty ten ton critters that are at once bird-like and worthy of death by Ewok. I'm not sure that chrome is the way to go by way of camouflage, but hey, if you have a death ray maybe you don't need to fly casual.
2. Carsten Richter has a way with creating sound, and he does not disappoint in this film, not one bit. (However... see 2 below.)
3. Long, patient shots of the landscape, which make the film feel perhaps less 'action sci-fi' than it is. It's not Out of Africa, but it has its moments.
4. Interesting post apocalyptic sets. (That's a bland thing to say in the 'pro' section, but I'm digging a little here.
5. A really nice redesign on the classic notion of the death ray - characters who are mercifully atomized so as to get out of another day of filming, do so with style - it's generally a gorgeous and well thought out effect with a couple of clunky exceptions. CGI does not fail here, though later... oh later.
6. Nicely put together soundtrack that doesn't overwhelm the film until it goes full Thunderdome (see below).
7. Alien Tornado. Sounds stupid, looks cool.
8. Generally speaking the CGI is a bit over used where practical (expensive) effects should have been utilized - with a few notable exceptions.
As previously mentioned: Atomizer ray, awesome. Alien Tornado... sweet. And... the electrified alien tatanka stampede (right after the tornado) - is a powerful and very grounding visual that is really, really well done. Better seen than read... going back over these sentences would keep me away from this film entirely, and these are the PROS. Yeep.
9. Wandile Molebatsi. (And while most of his screen time was wasted on silly exposition, he's just cool af. More Wandile, please movie. Please!)
10. I feel like there should be a ten... but I really can't find one in the Pros section. Sorry movie.
1. Incredibly wooden dialogue that pained me several times into rage quitting the film. (I came back because I didn't want to write a review unless I'd seen the whole smash.) "I can't believe we got out of there. I thought you'd be killed. Those guys were trained soldiers and we were outnumbered back there. You know what? I bet you're Special Forces or something. You clearly have advanced combat skills and you speak several languages." Ack.
1.5 . "I saw bomber planes out there..." It was a C-130 doing an impressive death roll. He seems to remember a lot of lingo from his days as a pipe hitter, but suddenly reverts to choo choos and bomber planes. (Fluffy thing! My brother would understand this... likely Val Kilmer would get this cringy reference as well... if you do, you're my hero.")
1.6 . "Fighter jets. See, someone's out there fighting." Ug. (This being said, the sound of the jets pans beautifully - and accurately - from right to left as they zoom zoom past in the pretty sky. It's a nice detail that you don't notice... but feel. Well done movie.)
1.7 . "Everyone fled, but the child soldiers pressed forward."
1.8 I've just stopped trying to keep up. It all sounds like, "Choo, choo! Go, go, go, bomber planes!" to me now.
2. There were several very lazy foley (stock sounds editing) lapses in the film. For example, the sound of an AK-47 being chambered is thrown in early in the film when the protagonist is clearly not chambering a round - it's just an expected blip in an action film. It fits because it is so often mis-used, but this makes it even more sinful. Carsten Richter is not to blame.
3. There was very little attention paid to the manner in which soldiers actually are trained to move and fight - instead, we're given a watered down action flick take full of arrrrgh moments. (Weapons are chambered again and again almost like exclamation points ("We show up at the door, and then what?" "Then we kill them." <racks weapon> ) Over and over people take their hands off of their weapons to gesture, turn their backs on their adversaries in order to monologue, and do overtly stoopid stupids.
4. Our protagonist, despite his loss of memory, seems to selectively remember when it fits the plot and forms an annoying number of opinions based on... nothing at all. "What if the Americans are involved?" "It's impossible." Why? Why is that impossible? How do you know? You don't know your flippin' name, Bo bro.
5. Unsurprisingly, all aliens attended the Stormtrooper school of how to aim at protagonists. (They vaporized plenty of folks early on, but when it comes to our two heroes... they're suddenly inept. (Lazy action thrill is not thrilling.)
6. Movie tends to forget that we're supposed to be in Kenya... and while the film goes over the top in many places to beat this into our thick skulls, it simply neglects this at times, too. A little girl's father is turned into mist and she cries out "Daaaaady!" Granted, not many US movie goes speak Kikuyu, but wouldn't it have been cool? Wouldn't we have understood what she was saying anyhow? Would that have driven home the point of our foreign location without whacking us over the head with yet another shanty-town? I know, I'm picky and probabbly a dick for even mentioning it, but the film misses some many opportunities to be subtle and cool, in favor of racking another bullet and screaming, "Go go go!"
7. Man, these aliens sure don't understand stealth. For all of their detailed, avian design, they pound around like they weigh 400 tons and really WANT to break their delicate internal electronic components. Something so pretty doesn't seem like it would thud thud thud everywhere, but it is dramatic and it does really ratchet up the AT-AT tension for the ground pounders.
8. Knuckle head soldier who remembers how to disassemble every weapon on earth, somehow forgets that telling pizza jokes while transmitting on a radio in the open might be a bad idea. Movie does not care that we notice. Movie moves right along. Sigh. (Oh, and he does this while sitting around a camp fire. He needed Frodo to come explain this to him... campfires are bad for hiding and stuff.)
9. The film suddenly, and recklessly, tries to trick us all into believing that mankind would go full Mad Max in just a few weeks of apocalypse. People who don't have enough drinking water and are getting misted by 100% no shit aliens, don't make elaborate, feathered head dresses - crocodiles and horns, oh my! (They also probably don't carry old boom boxes on their shoulder a la Say Anything, but it did make me laugh, so... okay.) Double also... chainmail. Because chainmail is very common on the battlefields of Kenya, and clearly not time consuming to build - at least it wasn't accompanied by feathers and horns. Wait.... Lazy Thunderdome is lazy.
10. Nearly every rifle, pistol, and submachine gun in this film is retrofitted for 10×24mm Caseless ammunition. (See Aliens... because you should.) It's a cheap way to CGI muzzle flashes and not have to fire real blanks, but prop guns are less fun than ones that spit casings everywhere and burn actors. Just my opinion.
11. Two plumes of smoke. Everywhere. EVERYwhere. Why? This isn't really a bad thing, and it's mighty cinematic, but...why?
12. Motorcycle jumps. Because, efficiency. <facepalm> (Bonus for shooting said jumpy guy out of the air.)
13. Photographer: "If I were a sniper, you'd already be dead. Luckily, these shots don't kill." Cringe. (This being said, the photog is right. Special Forces guy would have been waaaay dead because he yelled at photog guy from a bridge, in the open, 100 meters away, with the stock on his fancy (oh so clean) rifle fully collapsed and slung. Not all photographers are stupid. See?)
14. Dying photographer says things like, "These kids may have had nothing but they had all of the strength in the world." (Also, dogtags. Is that standard issue equipment from Reuters? I mention it because the character seems to have been designed and costumed by using a composite of several characters that we've seen all too often... he just doesn't fit.)
15. Dying photographer, really REALLY wants to die, but doesn't die fast enough for my liking.
16. "They must have some weakness, something that we can use against them..." We all knew that this line was coming so... fine. However, if you make it to approximately the 49 minute mark in the film and watch how this line is delivered, you'll understand why I took time to include this in the number 16 slot. If you can't wait, I've included a screenie below.
17. Alien human hunters are terrible at their jobs. (Also, said humans are immune to CGI dust... because CGI.) (Double also: Kissing when about to be killed is not necessary for survival or the plot of this film... in any way. At all.)
18. There's an inordinate amount of grunting in this film. Like, Planet of the Apes amounts of grunting.
19. At the risk of over loving Cinema Sins, discount Jeremy Renner also really wants to die. (That's around the 58 minute mark if you're interested to see what Hawkeye looks like with a gratuitous gut shot. Not that you want to see that. I didn't. We evidently remember Budapest very differently.)
20. Seizure inducing flashback scenes are edited to make you cry and flee the theatre. It may have been a covert warning to the general movie-going population.
21. Seriously. Another gut shot, another character screaming out to die. This time it's Kara who wants to blow herself up with the most proppy of prop grenades. (Also, everyone in Africa has a .45 ACP. It's a union thing I think.)
22. Kara (discount Vasquez), needs her discount Scott Gorman (1:11 mark) for this scene to really work for me.
23. Count how many times the dialogue breaks down into, "Go, go, go." Really.
24. Bo has a plot driven limp. Limp ex-machina? Can that be a thing?
25. 19:25 mark: EMP generator that took four people to haul through the streets turns into a cardboard mock-up weighing approximately 12oz. You'll see.
26. Movie has the nerve to end on this line, "So what's your name?" "Bo, I'm goin' with Bo." Cut to techno-carnage, roll credits... ignore the central plot point of why the hell this guy was electrified to the point of kick starting an EMP generator.
I made it. Admittedly, I skipped the "sticks and stones rave" toward the end because it's getting late and my head feels like it's stuffed with Kenyan wheat... but I made it all for you constant reader. I hope you get the giggling price of admission out of this review at the very least.