Title: BATTLE IN SPACE : THE ARMADA ATTACKS
Directors: Andrew Jaksch, Lukas Kendall, Toby Rawal, Scott Robson, Sanjay F. Sharma, & Luis Tinoco
Starring: Declan Churchill Carter, Tom Farrah, and Jess Gabor
Movie length: 1 hours 30 minutes
I don’t usually include the official movie tagline in my reviews, but I’ll make an exception in this case: “In 2420, after aliens and powerful space wizards have enslaved human villages, a group of resistance fighter organize a counter attack against their alien overlords and launch an armada of spacecraft in a battle for supremacy in space.” BATTLE IN SPACE, you had me at “space wizards.” At first I expected pure B movie schlock, but then I noticed Doug Jones was in the movie. You most likely don’t know what Doug Jones looks like, but if you clicked on a review for a movie called BATTLE IN SPACE: THE ARMADA ATTACKS, the odds are you’ve seen him. He is usually unrecognizable since he’s a great creature actor – see Falling Skies (as Cochise), The Shape of Water (as Amphibian Man), Star Trek: Discovery (Saru), and the first Hellboy movies, not the horrific recent reboot (Abe Sapien). So now I was conflicted, is this movie going to be over the top campy or awesome? It turns out BATTLE IN SPACE: THE ARMADA ATTACKS defied all my expectations.
Far from a cheesy B-movie, BATTLE IN SPACE: THE ARMADA ATTACKS has some genuinely impressive special effects, from nifty spaceships to interesting alien design. While I think the filmmakers would acknowledge this is a low budget film, the quality far exceeds the “video game cut scene” level I was expecting. The CGI ships had some heft to them and didn’t feel fake. BATTLE IN SPACE: THE ARMADA ATTACKS nails the little details – the character costumes feel authentic. Movies often flub when they are trying to depict grime, but the first vignette’s wardrobe game is spot on. Throughout the movie, the spacesuits look functional, evoking a retro-futuristic vibe.
Viewers expecting a Star Wars style saga are in for another surprise. The movie isn’t really a story, but rather a series of vignettes tied around the theme. After a deadly serious voiceover introduction sets the stage, we hit the first vignette, which was one of the strongest. Dawkins, the story’s featured character is a charismatic down on his luck former cop. This is also the story that delivers on the space wizards promise.
The last two stories are also standouts. My favorite is a “two people confined in a small space” psychological thriller about two crewmates on a starship. This strength of this story is a series of twists and counter twists that will keep you guessing until the end. The final story is the most heartfelt of the movie, even if it doesn’t seem to fit in the continuity of the film.
So what about Doug Jones? Yes, he is in the movie. As can be expected, his role is fairly limited. But he is in it! While I’d obviously love to see him more, I do owe him some appreciation for giving me a reason to give this little movie a chance. If you go into BATTLE IN SPACE: THE ARMADA ATTACKS expecting Star Wars, you may be disappointed. But if you go in ready to appreciate it for what it is, you will likely find at least a story or two that resonates with you. Consider me pleasantly surprised.
8/10 – Based on it exceeding my expectations and … space wizards.
BATTLE IN SPACE: THE ARMADA ATTACKS is now available on Video on Demand services including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu, Dish Network and all major cable providers