Twitter Plot Summary: Great big creatures are emerging from the Atlantic and attacking the Eastern seaboard! Oh no!
Five Point Summary:
1. Is that really all they have to contend with? Ugh.
2. Bad, bad CGI.
3. Trying to bust him out without trying to turn the handle first.
4. Neural links. Looks so very cheap…
5. Blast it up into the skies, why not?
For those not in the know, The Asylum are a film production company who make budget-equivalent versions of the big Hollywood blockbusters. These budget releases are often timed to be released on DVD at around the same time as the big budget version is released in cinemas, preying on the unobservant and the unknowing and hoping that they will buy The Asylum’s version in the mistaken belief that the makers of the big budget film have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to marketing. It’s a ploy that has worked well for them, releasing at least 11 films a year and making sufficient money to do so. In some cases their output is acceptable, in particular where they haven’t tried too hard to pander to an original blockbuster. Rise of the Zombies and Bloodstorm (aka Nazis At The Centre Of The Earth) are two notable examples of films that are not all that bad.
Atlantic Rim isn’t one of those examples. A cheap cash-in on the summer’s Pacific Rim, Atlantic Rim sees a small group of Power Rangers wannabes and their giant mechs called up to protect the United States from giant creatures that are attacking the coastline. Other than a very brief hint at a love triangle between the three mech pilots, the story is as linear as that. Creatures attack, they repel the invasion, repeat ad nauseam. The three pilots all have colour-based code-names and represent three strands of modern America – white man, black man, woman. Just in case this wasn’t enough and you weren’t sure which pilot is which, they wear the appropriate colours on their uniforms and the cockpits of their giant mechs are also bathed in that colour. Nice and simple, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Asylum movies are notable for their ability to get relatively well-known stars to make an appearance, admittedly ones that might be on their way down the fame ladder, but for the most part they do at least have acting ability. Not that you would have made that assumption from Graham Green’s appearance as a military general here. I’m not sure what the problem was, but his face rarely moves and he barely engages with his dialogue. Maybe he read the script and suffered immediate facial paralysis? On the whole, his performance is not the worst in the film, but it gives the other, unknown actors a run for their money. Kudos must go to the chap with the eyepatch, who does his level best to out-cheese Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken. He very almost does it, but it would’ve served him better if his scar didn’t keep disappearing. As far as locations go, many are used multiple times but with different lighting (hello, mech cockpits), and more often than not the actors are shot from knee-level so you can only see the sky behind them and no locations. On reading up about Atlantic Rim it seems that multiple script re-writes were required due to locations becoming unavailable – I’d say that it’s obvious from the finished product, but again because its an Asylum production you come to expect this level of quality.
The mistakes and strange plot developments are numerous and incredibly obvious. In one scene a creature may be tearing up the coastline, mashing people underfoot, yet somehow there also manages to be a number of corpses that look like they’ve been shot instead of killed by the creature – there would be nothing left if that had been their cause of death. The only explanation here is friendly fire, clearly the troops got a little trigger happy and took out their own people. Hey, it happens. The creature attacks, whilst not the worst I’ve seen from an Asylum production (that honour belongs to 100 Million BC), they’re still rather terrible, but when you’re operating on an Asylum-level budget that’s the best you’re going to get. Some story elements from Pacific Rim are copied over (neural link with the mechs, the fact big lizard things are attacking the United States, etc), but nothing even remotely close to the level of depth of del Toro’s film. I think that says a lot given how little depth there is to Pacific Rim (no seabed-related pun intended). Not even watching the team trying to rescue Red from a broom cupboard, posing as a military prison, can save this one.