What do you get when you mix together the wonderment of E.T, the adventure of Goonies, the endearment of Stand by Me, and the action from Independence Day? You get Netflix latest movie about four kids at a summer camp who must save the world from alien invaders: Rim of the World. Alien invasion movies are nothing new in today’s day-and-age of filmmaking. So, when a film manages to take the age-old concept and put some kind of a new spin on it, audiences will take notice. With Rim of the World, the film acts as an ode to the classic action/adventure genre of the past, weaving in a sense of nostalgia while still managing to separate itself from the rest. A film that is part-reality and part-fantasy, Rim of the World is a treat for fans of sci-fi, action, and alien movies, and will remind you of how imaginative it is to be a kid.
Rim of the World follows Alex, ZhenZhen, Dariush, and Gabriel, who discover that they’ve got bigger problems to face than learning how to canoe and climb ropes when aliens suddenly invade the planet. Alone in a campground once teeming with people, the kids are unexpectedly entrusted with a key that carries the secret to stopping the invasion. Without any adults or electronics to help guide the way, it’s clear what they must do: band together, conquer their fears, and save the world.
What makes Rim of the World so fun lies in its devotion to child imagination. The story, written by Zack Stentz, feels entirely like it came from the mind of a child playing with their toys in their basement; and I mean this in the best way possible. Rim of the World is escapism at its finest – as we see children at the forefront – on a quest to save the world. Every kid wants to be the hero of their own story, and Rim of the World showcases the journey one has to go through to become said hero. This is how the film separates itself from such an over-saturated market: the alien invasion is never the main focus of the film, it is always in the backdrop. At the centre of the film is four kids who are suddenly thrusted into a save the world mission, and trials each has faced that has led them to this moment.
“A nerd, a criminal, an orphan and a joke.” This is how each child views themselves in Rim of the World before setting off on their hero’s journey. Of course, the theme of “it’s not easy being a kid,” has been tackled before. But in this McG-directed feature, more somber themes are utilized to add more emotional weight. One child lost his parent, one was sent to juvenile detention, one has lived a hollow life and is set to lose his father to jail time, and another was abandoned because of their gender. Despite revolving around children, this not a “kids movie;” instead acting as memories of what adults went through as children, finding solace in friends, and yearning for something more.
Alex, the nerd, played wonderfully by Jack Gore, is a home-body, who would rather sit at his computers than play outside. On top of that however, he is still reeling from the loss of his father, the one person who actually understood Alex. Through the course of the groups’ travels, Alex learns to conquer his fears, overcome obstacles, and, as any kid would want, fight to save the world from impending doom. Gabriel, the criminal, is the most mysterious of the group, and is the most haunted by his past. In a breakout role for Alessio Scalzotto, Gabriel has essentially lost everything, but finds a new purpose, and family, with the other kids.
ZhenZhen, the orphan, is silent for the first half of the movie. Without any lines, Miya Cech is able to convey so much emotion without even having to say a word. It is not until the film’s second half where she trusts the other three enough to actually speak, revealing that she was abandoned due to her father wanting a son. It is a heartbreaking realization, as every child deserves a loving home. However, this does not stop ZhenZhen from being the most badass character on screen, always being at the heart of the action. Finally, there is Benjamin Flores Jr. as Dariush, the ‘joker’. Dariush grew up with a lavish lifestyle, but in turn, has lead to an extremely empty life. With every pop culture reference he makes, it is apparent that Dariush looks to entertainment to fill the empty voids. Underneath the snotty and egotistical mindset, lies a boy who simply wants his family to stay together and to have real friends.
Rim of the World was a surprising and satisfying adventure flick. A solid blend of adventurous nostalgia and emotionally complex themes, it is hard not have to have a fun time with this 99 minute Netflix feature. With a budget of only $15.7 million, the film does lack in certain places, mainly its visual effects for the alien itself (cool design, but shoddy VFX). That being said, it makes up for this in its terrific backdrops, fleshed out character arcs, and a superb musical score from Bear McCreary. All in all, if you’re looking for a film that transports you back to your imaginative childhood, then Rim of the World will definitely satisfy your call to adventure.
Rating – 7.5/10
Rim of the World is streaming on Netflix now.