For the entire month of April, Cinefessions will once again be locked inside The Asylum, reviewing tons of releases by the famed studio. Every weekday throughout April you will get another Asylum review.
Sometimes I pick a mockbuster after having watched the original film, looking for something that might poke some fun at the blockbuster, or at least go in a different direction with it. I’ve dipped into the Age of Tomorrow well twice, and while it’s supposed to be a mockbuster of Edge of Tomorrow (or Live. Die. Repeat. or whatever the hell else the studio decided to name it), Age of Tomorrow is exactly what’s wrong with the mockbuster in every way, shape, and form.
We’ll start with the plot outline that Netflix gives. “When the sun strikes an altar hidden within the ancient Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico, it creates a beacon that triggers an alien blitzkrieg”. Yeah, aliens invade, but I remember nothing about a pyramid or anything like it. At first, we think it’s a big asteroid, ala Armageddon, we’re going up to destroy before we ever get a shot of the aliens. Then when we find out it is aliens, and we get some of the most bizarrely shot alien shootouts on Earth, which is being invaded. The action that means anything, taking place on the asteroid and through a portal to the alien home world, is given a passing hand wave.
The plot is basic, but then they managed to muck it up with some really bad storytelling choices. Yes, bullets don’t injure the aliens, but the fireman’s equipment will do just fine. No, seriously. One of the leads gets some important information, and then proceeds to basically give a spoiler-free version of the news to the people who need all the spoilers, and no one bats an eye or asks any questions. On top of that, everything looks horribly thrown together last minute. That might have something to do with the fact that Age of Tomorrow was shot in just fifteen days. Let that sink in. Fifteen days.
The effects work in Age of Tomorrow is atrocious. The ships look like something they whipped up really quick and went with it, rather than building anything functional looking, or something that at least looks marginally like a spaceship rather than a Flash Gordon reject. Well what about the alien drone things that attack people? They aren’t too badly designed, but they have to interact with the live action shots so much they end up being a bit ridiculous looking. The aliens, when we see them in more practical effects shots, look pretty decent, if a bit basic. The sets on the alien base look shoddy, borrowing from every look we’ve seen in any sci-fi film over the last decade or so. Add in a lot of obvious green screen work, and well, there you are.
Then we move on to the acting. This is abysmal. While I expect more out of Robert Picardo, The Doctor from Star Trek Voyager, he’s not given much to do here. Even so, he is the best actor in every single scene he’s in. It’s a shame that the dialogue and setups are so terrible. Kelly Hu, Lady Deathstrike in X-Men 2 and the Sorceress in The Scorpion King, as well as a long list of TV credits, is given most of the sci-fi babble grunt work as a Doctor who’s attached to the military unit sent up to deal with the initial asteroid. Considering her face is the one they picked for the poster, she’s got way less screen time than most, and we’re left with whoever they grabbed that day for different scenes that just fail to have any impact.
So what we have in Age of Tomorrow is a well below average mockbuster of Edge of Tomorrow, and a bit of Armageddon. The only real bright point to the film is Robert Picardo and Kelly Hu, who manage to give decent performances even though the script struggles to accomplish anything. I didn’t like this when I watched it months, before I finally saw Edge of Tomorrow, and I like it even less now. I’d actually forgotten I’d watched Age of Tomorrow before I picked it for review, but had to watch it a second time to refresh my memory as to why I disliked it so much. I really wish I hadn’t.