Does the name McG sound familiar? His real name is Joseph McGinty Nichol and he was once one of the hottest up-and-coming directors in Hollywood. He burst onto the scene with Charlie’s Angels and found himself in the company of others such as Bryan Singer, JJ Abrams and Guy Ritchie – amongst others – as a candidate for greatness. Sadly, with a string of poorly received films like Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle, Terminator Salvation and We Are Marshall, he wasn’t able to rise to his potential. With that in mind, he never went away and continued making films as a producer, occasionally stepping back behind the wheel for movies like This Means War and 3 Days to Kill.
And then out of the blue he handed us 2018 Netflix film The Babysitter, a fantastic comedy horror for the teen crowd that showcased a keen eye for genre and an absolute return to form (you can find our review of that one HERE). It was a fabulous exercise in macabre horror and suggested that Mr. McG was back in the game. Which brings us to Rim of the World, a peculiar sci-fi action adventure that hits the right notes, and then hits the wrong notes, and then the right… then the wrong, and… D’oh!
Suffice to say that this is a messy movie, and that’s a shame. Taking advantage of the current wave of 80’s nostalgia, Rim of the World tells the story of a group of misfits and outcasts who find themselves on an incredible adventure while spending their summer in the woods. Alex (Jack Gore) is an introverted geek, ZhenZhen (Miya Cech) is a silent adventurer, Dariush (Benjamin Flores Jr.) is an egotistical rich twat, and Gabriel (Alessio Scalzotto) is a mysterious cool kid with a secret. They all attend the Rim of the World Summer Camp, and find themselves alone in the woods during a global alien invasion. With their friends and counsellors either dead or missing, the four band together and seek safety, only to find themselves on a mission to save humanity.
This is a high concept movie with ambition to boot, and while its cast of teen actors is impressive, and the hypothesis of the overall story is enthusiastic, McG fails to keep it together. It begins as a summer camp comedy in the vein of Meatballs, and then turns into Red Dawn, only to morph into War of the Worlds, before throwing a weird kind of Breakfast Club curveball. Needless to say, it is a difficult movie to describe. Combining all of those elements sounds pretty damn awesome on paper, but it makes for quite the shemozzle on screen.
High praise for the young cast, however, who are all fantastic. Their individual character dynamics are well written and hilariously delivered. They share a strong rapport with one another and lend the movie its much-needed levity. They run, duck, weave and jump their way through a gauntlet of terrifying situations as spaceships swoop down upon them and hideous alien creatures tear people to shreds, and all the while building a bond and discovering inner strengths. It’s obviously clichéd stuff, but that’s the least of the movie’s problems – so full kudos to these kids for kicking ass.
Apart from the game young cast, praise should also be directed at composer Bear McCreary, whose fun, Spielbergian/John Williams-inspired score gives the story a massive sense of wonder. McCreary recently scored the Netflix-released The Cloverfield Paradox and Godzilla King of Monsters, and is also the maestro behind the upcoming Child’s Play remake. His qualification and sense of nostalgia is an invaluable addition to Rim of the World.
BUT… then there’s McG’s shoddy direction… and is his inability to find a demographic. The synopsis reads as if targeted to a teen audience, and yet the abundance of mediocre digital effects in broad daylight recalls the type of dreck you might find on Saturday morning kids television. And so those two focal points imply a tween-aged target audience, and yet the whole damn movie is loaded with profanity (several F bombs), gore (limbs being torn off) and sexual innuendos (oral sex, getting laid, etc) from the mouths of children. And as if that wasn’t confusing enough, these kids share the knowledge of 40-year olds as they reference Werner Herzog and Grizzly Man, as well as Alexander the Great, and they make statements to the effect of “I’ve spent my entire life searching for love!” Yeah, this is really is a strange and clunky flick.
Thank goodness for Netflix, because if you’re a subscriber you can watch Rim of the World without feeling cheated. In fact, that freedom to switch off without reservation might play to the movie’s advantage, and your low expectations might grant you a more forgiving outlook. There is no doubt that the film has its moments, and a good amount of the comedy did work for me, but at the end of the day there is no denying how disjointed and poorly executed Rim of the World really is. And with a great concept like this, that really is a shame!
SCREEN REALM SCORE: ★★☆☆☆
‘Rim of the World’ can be found on Netflix right HERE.