There are those among us that are born with a hero gene, no matter what is at stake, they are programed to do the right thing by people. When humanity is at it’s weakest, a hero will appear out of the commonwealth. We are familiar with the men and women who have chosen to serve in the military, but what happens if one of those soldiers loses their memories? Will instinct of personal survival outshine duty?
Revolt, the new film by Joe Miale, follows the chaotic journey as Bo (Lee Pace) tries to regain his memory as to why, as an American soldier, he is in a small African village being terrorized by aliens. He teams up with Nadia (Berenice Marlohe), in the hope of saving the world from a colossal invasion by an intelligent and unwavering alien machines. At its core, it’s a story we’ve seen before, but on the surface it is a breath of fresh air.
Revolt shines in it’s acceptance of the filmmaking rules we are taught, but uses them to their advantage. These rules include pacing, things happening at a certain time, and the desire to show not tell the major points in the story. Some may find the topic of amnesia as a fatigued technique, the character learning plot points as the audience does, but if it’s done right, it’s compelling. The audience is following right along with Bo, uncovering clues as he does. We are all unsure of what the start of the invasion was like, or why we are where we are, but the main focus becomes the ending. The movie is about the last stand, all other details aren’t important.
This can get tricky, though, as no matter how strong the writer may be, the payoff is only achieved if the actor is on point. Thankfully Pace has an ease to his characters where nothing is forced. As mentioned before, the desire to assist others is a trait that can’t be faked, even with amnesia, and it is conveyed in Revolt. Even with the chemistry between Pace and Marlohe, with her frustration and at times skepticism, the story moved forward as it should. They worked together as acting partners and as plot partners to help tell the story at hand.
There are, at times, moments when you feel as if you know where in the structure the story is, what turning point is coming up to push it into another story arc. To be fair, reviewers are highly aware of the composition of film, i.e. script structure, and we dive straight into it with our notes on hand. While I may have been able to point certain things out, that doesn’t mean others will. This also doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. There is a reason why scripts are constructed a certain way, because they work and are entertaining. The fact that Miale and fellow screenwriter Rowan Athale were able to use what is the norm, but create something that’s not monotonous is something to relish.
The story of Revolt moves forward and keeps the audience calculating at all the right moments. The introduction of characters are at points where the main two need to interaction with others, but each time these new characters have a purpose to drive us closer to the finale. Nothing that graces the screen for this story is less than important, and each time it’s presented with vigor by the cast. One of the surprising characters is Stander (Jason Flemyng). Being a fan of Flemyng for quite some time, I was floored by his inclusion in this film. His little screen time had such an impact on the story, it left you wanting more but knowing you were blessed with the time you had.
Stander’s inclusion is heartbreakingly beautiful, and creates one of the most clever uses of photographs, to physically show not tell what is important, that I have seen in a while. The photos become a map through the story and landscape that bring our characters into the next chapter of their journey. This might be a little too much on the nose about trajectory of the film, but it’s a unique way of showcasing what needs to be done.
Let’s not forget that the big bad of the film are alien invaders. With taking such a stance on such a larger than life villain, a film could veer quickly and dramatically to the realm of amateurish effects quality. Thankfully, that was not the case for Revolt. The SFX were seamless, and at times I forgot I was watching effects at all. They felt real, created with intent and much attention to details. Ever part of their mechanics played a role in who there were, unique beings who, may have malice intent, but are a species all their own.
When a film can just be, where you are following a compelling story and are engrossed in the adventure, you have a good film. Revolt is a film of intent, not only in the progression of the story, but in the way it was created.
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Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Vertical Entertainment