Rim of the World – review (Netflix)

Spoiler territory: Alex (Jack Gore) is a nerdy, thirteen-year-old recluse, obsessed with all things space-related. His mother, Grace (Annabeth Gish) signs him up for a summer camp, Rim of the World, to try and get him involved with other kids after the death of his father.

Orphan, Zhenzhen (Miya Cech) is also going to the summer camp. She pays an adult to get her through customs when she arrives in America. Dariush (Benjamin Flores Jr.) is a brash, flash kid from money. He is also going to the camp.

On a space mission, high above Earth, astronaut, Major Collins (Lynn Collins) is suffering a crisis, her ship is under attack and her crewmate is dead. She contacts mission control, who can see that she is under attack from an alien vessel.

They tell her that she needs to send the coordinates of the vessel to them. She is unable to send them. General Khoury (Michael Beach) tells her to download the coordinates onto a key and deliver them personally to Dr Fielding. At the camp,

Alex meets the camp coordinator, Logan (Andrew Batchelor) and is also smitten by the mute Zhenzhen. He speaks to her in Mandarin, but she does not say anything. On a zip line activity, Alex’s fear of heights proves too much and he is embarrassed in front of the other kids.

The next day, the kids are meant to go canoeing, but when they get to the lake, they are told that due to a faeces related mishap, the canoes are not available. Zhenzhen goes off for a wander.

Take the damn key!

Alex, seeing Zhenzhen wandering off, follows after her, calling out and saying they’re going to lose the group. Dariush, who is in the woods relieving himself, sees Alex and decides he wants to help him with his fear of heights. He drags Alex to the edge of a ravine. He is stopped by a slightly older boy, Gabriel (Alessio Scalzotto).

The four kids are all together when an alarm come across all of their phones. They have to evacuate. They return to the camp and everyone is gone. Above them, a battle rages between American fighter planes and alien aircrafts. A pod crashes to Earth. The kids tentatively look into it and Major Collins is inside. They get her out. She tells Alex that they need to get the key to JPL in Pasadena, to Dr Fielding.

Major Collins gets killed by an alien that was attached to the pod. The alien separates, a smaller dog-like entity comes out of it and they pursue the kids. They manage to kill the smaller alien. The larger one continues to pursue them. The three boys bicker amongst themselves, all arguing as to what to do. Zhenzhen takes charge and tells them they are going to take the key to an adult.

They find some bicycles and get to the nearest town. In the town, they find a police station but it is abandoned except for one lone prisoner, Lou (Scott MacArthur). Dariush does not want to release him, but Alex gives him the keys to the cell.

They then encounter the military and hand the key over to Captain Hawking (Dean Jagger). They get on a bus to be taken out of the town, but aliens attack again. Hawking gets trapped under debris and gives the key back to Alex. He makes him promise to get it to Dr Fielding.

Night falls and Gabriel tells them that they are actually in his neighbourhood. The reason he was in the woods was that he had escaped from juvenile detention. They go to his home and get some food and sleep.

Let me give you a hand…

They are awoken by a gang of men with guns in masks. They find out Lou is the leader of the gang and are initially relieved. Unfortunately, Lou wants the key so as he can sell it to the highest bidder. Lou’s plan is disrupted, permanently, by the alien still pursuing the kids. It kills his gang. Gabriel tricks the alien into a swimming pool and they escape.

As they go on their journey, they discuss how the alien is still after them having been shot up by an American fighter plane. Alex reasons that the alien must be able to regenerate.

The boys get into another argument and Dariush admits his life is not as great as he has made out. They move on to the next town. In the town, they find an abandoned car. The alien attacks again, hanging on to the vehicle. Zhenzhen tells them all to jump out of the car.

The alien is taken off of a bridge and crashes onto a road below. Alex realises that he has lost the key and it is probably in the car. Dariush volunteers to go and retrieve it. Dariush gets the key but is scratched by the alien. They carry on to Pasadena. They get to the building and it has been attacked. They find Dr Fielding dead inside.

A chance broadcast from General Khoury alerts them and they tell him they have the key. Alex says they can execute the plan. The general talks them through the plan to use the information on the key, so as to destroy the aliens’ mothership.

The alien that is chasing them finds the building. As the kids execute their plan, the alien traps Alex. He manages to kill it by luring into the path of a rocket engine. The kids save the Earth. The end.

This isn’t good…

Any good?: Scoring a paltry five-point one on IMDB, Rim of the World is an okay, if overly derivative film. Riding on the coattails of the success of Netflix Stranger ThingsRim of the World pits four plucky kids against a possible world-ending threat.

All the tropes one would expect are ticked off; a kid lacking confidence who finds his inner strength through the quest—tick. A mysterious foreign (non-white) girl who the boys are not sure how to take—tick. A cocky, loudmouth jerk, who is brash to hide his insecurities—tick. And, a handsome, morally righteous, but not too smart, kid who keeps everyone honest—tick.

Rim of the World is lazy entertainment. It is almost a film by numbers as if the writer—Zack Stentz—just followed a Save The Cat screenwriting sheet. The generic alien is a multi-limbed, jagged-tooth, snarling beast, wanting to kill being its only motivation.

Directed by the curtly named McG, the film moves along at a brisk pace, ignoring and glossing over plot holes with edits and quips. The young actors are all very good, reinforcing the old adage given to adult actors to never work with animals or children for fear of being upstaged.

Though the film is given a low score on IMDB, it is not an unwatchable mess. It is just very predictable and, as such, perhaps a tad irritating for some. At ninety-eight minutes long, Rim of the World is not overly long.

If you can look past the laziness of the story and appreciate that it is not going to be a work of genius, Rim of the Work is, nonetheless, a mildly enjoyable film to waste one hundred minutes on, even if it is not a must-see.

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