Stars: Scott Norman, Jonny Victor, Tommy Beardmore, Mitchell Koory, Stevie Robinson, Jonathan West and Pauline Ann Johnson
|This film was an official selection at the 10th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.|
To be fair, the hero of the piece is rather stereotypical too, but he does have the benefit of screen time to build his character and between Mike Zawacki, who wrote the story and adapted it into a screenplay with Nancy Nall Derringer, and Scott Norman, the actor tasked with playing this unnamed lieutenant, he's built very well indeed. We quickly discover through a well written conversation between one of his men and a new recruit, that he's not only a capable soldier and a man of his word but also someone with the ability to think on his feet and find ways to imaginatively work within the rules and thus achieve goals which he has officially been barred from doing. That, and Norman's admirable combination of care and distance, is the real framework for the story, over which is laid the particular mission he's been given that we're here to watch unfold. The enemy has created a deadly chemical weapon called 'the fog' and the mission is to the factory that makes it, but it's not quite to do what we might expect.
If Dr Weishaupt is the worst thing about the picture, the best is surely how it looks. Even above Norman's contribution to the lead role, the look of the film stands out for praise. To reflect that we're in a warzone, the colour palette is faded a little, as if coated with the dust from bombed out buildings. The devastation is highly believable, as are the other effects of war, such as a few very effective wounds. The tanks and armoured airships are gorgeous creations and due care is given to their placement and use. To highlight how this is an alternate history, if war zeppelins wasn't enough of a giveaway, the uniforms and badges used aren't recognisable. Apparently the helmets are from communist East Germany, rarely used in film, to make them feel unfamiliar. I feel odd complaining about accents in an alternate history, but they aren't consistent with the clear influence of England vs Germany, so it looks better than it sounds. This is strong enough, however, that I'm eager to see Zawacki's earlier work, such as 2010's The Message.