Ah, summer camp. Don’t we all remember our first day, when the camp councillors somehow knew our name and focused solely on us despite all the other kids arriving? And the group leaders who taught us “black man handshakes” before everyone got obliterated in a poorly explained alien invasion?
Nexflix’s Rim of the World remembers. But considering the largely negative response it has garnered, I think most people would prefer if McG hadn’t bothered embarking on this cringe-worthy Spielberg-esque nostalgia trip. Particularly considering how strangely racist much of it is. Focusing on four teens left alone after their summer camp is evacuated following a sudden alien attack, the film is a hodgepodge of lazy references to 80s adventure movies. It also manages to explode stereotypes by making them even more offensive. Case in point: the token black kid spends his time showing off about his wealth and sexual experience. The twist to his tale is that his father is going to prison. Yup.
To be entirely too fair to that particular story beat, absent fathers are a key motif of the film. A running theme is the inability of adults to follow through on their actions, leading to the four youngsters taking on the task of saving the world by delivering a game-changing plot device to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Indeed, the one place where the film has something vaguely interesting to say is the way in which adults range from being ineffectual to evil as the kids learn to fend for themselves. However, even this is undercut by a couple of oddly gruesome and slightly vindictive deaths. I dig it, fellow kids, adults suck!
A further question is why this film, focusing on a rag-tag team of thirteen-year-olds dealing with young adult issues, was given a 15 rating. It, this is not. Aside from some entirely unfunny blue jokes, which only serve to insult the audience’s intelligence, there’s little reason why Rim of the World couldn’t at least have aimed for a 12 rating. Whether or not any twelve-year-olds would want to sit through this is another question entirely.
The film is also exhaustingly relentless. It appears that no one paid any attention to issues of pacing. Neither the script nor the editing permits either the characters or the audience a moment to breathe. The sole exception is an extended Adidas commercial wherein the kids stop for their obligatory end-of-the-world new clothes montage in an abandoned shopping mall. This is, of course, in a film already crammed with unnecessary clichés. One can’t help but feel sorry for the young performers who had to struggle through clunky dialogue littered with lazy and often offensive jokes. Even their characters’ triumphs and tribulations are hampered by shoddy cuts and a lack of attention to detail.
Admittedly, an action adventure movie doesn’t require a huge deal of explanation to make its plot work. However, the fact that everything is hand-waved away aside from the use of American military technology is, to put it mildly, somewhat worrying. Did we need to know why the six-legged alien following the four intrepid adventurers seems to have oddly erratic regenerative powers? Probably not. But did we need to be made aware that the United States would have been unequipped to deal with this contemporary alien menace if not for the cache of nuclear weapons created and stored up during the Cold War? Well, we know it know. God Bless America.
Considering the social media reports of people shutting off the film after the first fifteen minutes, it doesn’t appear that many people are bothering. But in case you’re tempted to watch, it’s probably best to just stick on E.T. or Jurassic Park again. Or, quite frankly, any film that has any idea of pacing at all. Being a teenager these days is already exhausting. They don’t need Rim of the World adding to all that crap.