Rim of the World is mostly about the concept rather than the story and characters, which ultimately creates its own downfall.
I appreciate what Netflix film Rim of the World is building, having a band of teenagers face a daunting alien invasion in the most engineered situation. The adventure movie tries to encourage a Stranger Things look from the cast; that awkward time in your teenage years where you are experiencing the beginnings of a coming-of-age story, and it’s hard to grasp the wild changes to the brain chemistry. I get what McG was trying to do, and at some degree, it was easy to enjoy, but here lies the problem…
Rim of the World feels like an adventure theme park equal to the same type of experience that you’d expect at Universal Studios. The four misfit teenagers — Alex, ZhenZhen, Dariush, and Gabriel — are at a summer camp with the same name as the Netflix title. The plot flamboyantly places all these characters together, while the metropolitan areas are brimming with Aliens. Scenes that involve danger feel unnaturally choreographed, with the film set always moving at the same time as the characters. McG attempted to shoot the action from the young teenagers’ perspective, rather than from a broader destructive view, but the result fell short, encouraging the audience to think of the green screen rather than the product.
While I do not discredit a fun teenage adventure, the lack of attempt to engage with the character’s perceived issues are tackled way too far into the story, feeling considerably disengaged, without the energy to care. By the time you reach the midway point, you are watching Rim of the World purely for the thrill, coated in many throwaway snippets of dialogue that may make you chuckle slightly, but most of the comedy falls tragically flat.
The natural central character in Rim of the World is Alex (Jack Gore), who represents a severely socially anxious teen, forced to participate in this summer camp due to a concerned mother. If Rim of the World focused on his journey to bravery, then the Netflix adventure film may have applied some weight behind its credentials, but once Alex meets his compatriots, it becomes about near-missed deaths and escaping aliens a millisecond from being eaten.
The term theme parks is a strange metaphor to attach to a film, but there is a sense that McG desired to make such an epic experience that the objective became its enemy. Despite the flaws, it’s strangely worth the watch, as it’s not exactly dull. Rim of the World is like a theme park thrill ride that gets you through the 90 minutes.