Battlefield 2025 (2020)

Rating: C-

Dir: Joseph Mbah
Star: Jose Roseto, Anna Harr, Dustin Leighton, Caleb Thomas

For the first half of thus, you may well be wondering where the “battlefield” of the title is. It’s quite leisurely, to put it mildly, in getting all the characters out to the Arizona wilderness. A pair of escaped convicts. Camping sisters and their boyfriends. Some cops. A scientist and the janitor at the research facility. All are introduced and given their background stories. However, the makers might as well have saved themselves the bother. Few of the characters struck a chord with us, for a variety of reasons. This one has a man-bun. That one’s got a smug attitude. We know the actor playing this one, and he’s a total dick. Add to this, their deaths are quick and largely perfunctory, and there’s almost no emotional impact.

Definitely a contender for least accurate poster of the year…

At least most of them do die, which was particularly satisfactory in the case of Mr. Total Dick. [Chris wants a GIF of that moment] These fatalities are the work of an extraterrestrial visitor, who has been approaching Earth during the first half, and crash-lands in the desert. It’s not a friendly ET, communicating largely by blowing holes in the locals. Fortunately, between the cops, the escapees and some locals who are just out in the desert to shoot off their weapons, humanity has the ability to fight back. It takes a fair bit of firepower even to damage the alien: in some ways, the film is at heart a hymn in praise of the 2nd Amendment: 

The ability to blow away malevolent extraterrestrials, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

It is notable how suddenly things go from broad daylight to the dead of night in about two minutes. I suspect this was done to conceal the alien FX, though the design isn’t too bad, considering it is your basic “bloke in a suit” model of creature. The general debt to Predator is obvious, and equally as clearly, this is barely even in the same galaxy. In particular, the action about reaches the level of functional, and the creature here is not fit to lick the predator’s boots. 

The sheer number of characters also works against the film, because there’s no real protagonist, the focus bouncing around too much. Police officer Matt (veteran bit-part player Roseto, getting a rare chance to lead, and handling it decently enough) is perhaps the closest we get. Though he isn’t one of the characters introduced in the early going, so doesn’t show up until things are well under way. The idea here isn’t bad, and it’s always nice to see local film-makers doing something genre (though what is the point of the “2025” suffix on the title?). The execution, though, leaves a lot to be desired, especially on the scripting front. Halving the number of characters would be a good start, since on the basis of this, Mbah just isn’t up to keeping so many balls in the air simultaneously. Though stick around for the Buck’s Brakes’ faux advert after the (lengthy) credits, a very nice parody of local TV commercials here in Arizona.