Shift has little to offer besides its stellar VFX placed on top of a nothing script.
Published on February 22, 2023
Rating 2 /5
Shift is a post-apocalypse film that is best described by the depiction of its heroes. A ragtag group of humans tries to fight off an alien invasion with energy weapons and cybernetic implants that appear on their faces like mechanical spiders. We get a scene early on where the lead soldier refers to the scientists as loading him up with tech he doesn’t fully understand. All he knows is that it’ll help him fight off this threat to humanity. The film functions similarly, trying to present good action without questioning much of its plot.
This is one of those short films with a lot of effort put into the look and a stunning appeal. Despite how absurd the cybernetic implants look, their framing amid energy weapons, armored aliens, and sci-fi portals looks incredibly crisp and cinematic. Some spiffy-looking scenes are dazzling in their look, bringing back that fun feeling of watching Battlestar Galactica or Star Trek with its gritty feel and VFX just a hair above average TV presentations. Production-wise, this doesn’t look cheap with the lived-in costumes, decaying ruins of Earth, and violence that breaks out between humans and aliens. It’s a nice VFX reel if nothing else.
Sadly, this is a film where that production is the only exciting aspect. The paper-thin story acts as a routine lattice for these special effects sequences. The story feels like a prologue to a video game or a teaser for a TV series. There’s some dull dialogue about humans using alien tech to strike back against them, and the rest of the dialogue is all screaming and grunts of rebels taking on aliens. It’s a mindless exercise is presenting an all-too-familiar alien invasion scenario, complete with personality-free aliens the humans can shed no tears about slaughtering with energy guns.
There are so many films, big and small, that want to present a fantastic and intense alien invasion movie with lots of action. That’s admirable for aiming toward thrills, but this is no unexplored territory. Heaps of these types of films litter Netflix and parade around on the Syfy Channel with more care placed in the staging of the CGI than anything all that unique for a sci-fi action movie. Wouldn’t it be a wee bit more alluring if this premise didn’t just fall into the same ho-hum premise? Or is the goal here to make it to the big leagues of making these longer and mindless action pictures for studios?
Shift has little to offer besides its stellar VFX placed on top of a nothing script. One might think a showcase like this doesn’t need a compelling script to sell its action, but the action here still feels good but not great for this type of material. Watching this film felt like eating a can of frosting. Sure, it tastes good, but at a certain point, you crave the cake to go with it. This stylish filmmaking needs a better script and a different edge to set itself apart from the onslaught of dime-a-dozen alien invasion flicks.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.