Film reviews

Astro – Film Review

Astro is the latest movie from writer/director Asif Akbar, starring Gary Daniels (Fist of the North Star, The Expendables) as Jack Adams, a retired special forces soldier living with his daughter while Marshal Hilton (Fearless, Beetleborgs) plays Alexander Biggs, a former companion of Jack’s who is now a billionaire with his own space exploration program.

The main plot involves what appears to be some kind of alien Space Elf from another galaxy and his inexplicable genetic connection to Jack. There are also other aliens who have been hiding on Earth after crashing in Roswell, and they saved Biggs from dying for some reason to do with his father.

Honestly? This movie is an absolute mess. The acting is dreadful, the story incoherent, the sound mix abysmal and the special effects look like something I’d expect to see from an Atari Jaguar, not a film made in 2018. On my first viewing I made it two and a half minutes into the film before I was laughing so hard that tears were running down my face. There was a woman, painted gold like she’d just escaped from the original Star Trek set – even doing the ominous finger waggling thing as she appeared – and I just couldn’t help myself.  That really set the tone for the rest of the movie.

There is no rhyme nor reason to anything that happens in this story. At one point, agents are sent to supposedly abduct Jack. They do this by attempting to kill him using semi-automatic weapons. I’m not sure they got the memo that they need him to understand his connection to the Space Elf.

“There’s someone in the house!” he informs his daughter, despite the shots clearly coming from outside. Then what do they do? They go outside and run across the open lawn, with zero cover, in full view of the people who have been shooting at them.

Later in the film we have someone who is only referred to as “the other” by the characters. Only by watching the credits did I realise this was meant to be some sort of alien super soldier. There’s no explanation for where he came from, or why, he’s just suddenly there. They also use what appears to be some sort of laser dagger, which blatantly uses the sound effects of a Star Wars lightsaber, only it sounds like it was recorded from a toy instead that sounds tinny and muffled.

We are told by one of the Roswell aliens that Biggs “needs to settle down” and is “out of control” and that “the Council is aware”. We’re given nothing to back this up, no context, no explanation of exactly what it is he’s doing that is so out of control (do they mean sending people to shoot up Jack’s house? Their dialogue seems to suggest they’re not aware of that yet.) Oh, and the Council? Never explained. Are they aliens? The Illuminati? Space lizards? Whatever, it doesn’t matter.

Character dialogue is muffled and echoey at the same time and more than once I was forced to re-watch a scene multiple times to try to figure out what they were saying. There are random bursts of slow-mo for no apparent reason, shots follow no logical progression of events, characters will suddenly drop random non sequiturs into the middle of a conversation.

Jack: “I just can’t do it. I’m not a company man, Laura. Never have been, never will be.”
Laura: “I miss Mom.”

The film even retcons its own opening. The film opens with Jack’s daughter Laura sitting on a bed, watching a news report before the alien woman appears in her bedroom. We then cut to “five days earlier”. By the end of the movie we’re back to the same scene, presumably all caught up to the present day again, only now the news report has changed and more has been added to it; and the dialogue and appearance of the alien woman has changed.

No explanation. They just suddenly decided to retcon the opening scene and… hoped we wouldn’t notice?

Clocking in at an hour and forty-four minutes running time, this film is an absolute slog to get through that even has the gall to add on a cliffhanger ending and clear sequel bait, which left me utterly speechless. The only way I could possibly recommend this as a film to watch is if you got a group of friends together and played a drinking game. In fact, let me suggest some rules for you.

1. Anytime someone says “Jack,” take a sip. (Because anything more than a sip, you’d be dead of alcohol poisoning before the halfway point.)
2. Anytime Dr Ramesh looks like he’s enjoying his job WAY too much, take a shot.
3. Anytime someone delivers their lines in a deadpan monotone, finish your drink.
4. Anytime the camera lingers on Vivian’s cleavage, take a shot.
5. Anytime Biggs is randomly tapping on a PDA, take a shot.
6. Anytime the dialogue is muffled and incoherent, finish your drink.

This is honestly not a film I can recommend to anyone unless you’re a true connoisseur of bad movies, and even then I’d suggest there are better bad movies out there to spend nearly two hours of your life watching.

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