Rim of the World (2019)
Four kids at summer camp fight off an alien invasion.
- Great pacing
- Hilariously self-aware
- Excellent characterization
- Too much product placement
- Didn't know which audience it wanted to cater to
Much noise has been made about the fact that Disney is pulling their content from Netflix to feature it on their own streaming service later this year. Netflix—in its rush to fill the gap—has been pumping out book adaptations and original programming. The latest movie to hit the streaming service, Rim of the World, continues this trend.
A sci-fi action film featuring an alien invasion, Rim of the World centers around four awkward teenagers—Alex, ZhenZhen, Dariush, and Gabriel—who are sent to summer camp by their well-meaning but clueless parents. When an astronaut crash-lands near their campsite, they are tasked with delivery a missile defense key to a nearby military base. At the same time, they have to survive the invading alien hordes.
This film definitely isn’t without its problems, but is it enjoyable? Hell yes.
The intro to this film immediately grabs your attention. Full of action with more than a little bit of humor, the pacing was perfect and felt very reminiscent of 2011’s Attack the Block: another sci-fi invasion story featuring John Boyega.
Rim of the World managed to capture those “lazy summer blues” that come with being stuck outside in the wilderness when you’re a kid. The protagonist of the film, Alex—an awkward, space-loving misfit—brought me back to my own youthful days when I was forced into summer camp for “character development”. Overall, the characters in this movie were compelling and distinct. As the film progresses, you want to know more about them and root for their success.
An additional shoutout should go to the comedic timing, which was largely perfect. More than once Rim of the World had me laughing out loud and curling up in tears. It was surprisingly self-aware, both of itself as a cultural product and as an element of the media landscape surrounding it. There were multiple conversations about gender and racial dynamics in America, along with marxist class critiques disguised as tongue-in-cheek banter.
While this film was a great way to spend the evening, I honestly don’t know who it was trying to reach as its intended audience. The plot and the age of the characters made it seem like Rim of the World would be a coming-of-age story for kids. At the same time, the sexual innuendos and gory violence made it appear as if this movie was intended for adults.
Multiple times there were jokes about very young characters that didn’t seem age-appropriate. At one point we get a full-on shot of an alien punching its clawed fist through an adult’s skull. In another part, we see in graphic detail how one of the kid’s parents burnt alive in a house fire.
Less inappropriate but more annoying was the product placement. It was everywhere, and through most of the dramatic, heart-to-heart moments we’re treated to close-ups of brand logos instead.
Lastly, it was frustrating to see—yet again—that the only girl in an all-guys friend group was used as the romantic prize for the nerdy, awkward “nice guy” protagonist. As someone who was a nerdy girl at that age, and who knew a lot of other nerdy girls, I can absolutely confirm that this sort of narrative is completely unappealing to us. It doesn’t ring true with our own experiences.
Why can’t girls exercise their own agency by refusing to hook up with these guys? Or why can’t we choose to be paired with someone other than the most awkward person in the group? Apologies, but we weren’t and still aren’t prizes for people who meet the basic standards of decency.
After watching this film I became intensely curious over the camp the kids went to and researched it up online. It turns out there is a highway called “Rim of the World,” which runs through the Angeles National Forest in Southern California.