How do I begin with this review? First, I always review movies by 5 standards: 1. Plot/Story, 2. Characters/Acting skill, 3. Cinematography/Directing, 4. Sound (both music and general), 5. Overall enjoyability. Each of these categories can yield up to 2 points for a total of 10.
Characters/Acting Skill: 0
The characters will get an absolute zero because I cannot award decimals. Miya Cech (ZhenZhen) was easily the best character out of the whole group. There was something about her silence that really made her interesting, even though it was sloppy writing. There are a LOT of character tropes and stereotypes in this movie, with a heavy dose of racism at its finest. Just because a movie has meta moments does not excuse the way they treat all of the represented races, especially in the beginning moments at camp. The movie tries to bring us these great character developing scenes, but they mostly ring hollow and completely unnecessary (I'm talking to you, bedroom scene). There are some un-freaking-believable character turns that come way out of left field. For example, Dariush constantly reminds the viewer that he is all about self-preservation, but he makes a brave (stupid) decision later on in the film that puts his life in immediate danger. At the very end, Alex has all of a sudden conquered his fear of heights by climbing up a radio tower, then...you guessed it, he ziplines down. The villain looks like a combination of Venom, Machamp from Pokemon, the Predator, Wolverine (which is actually referenced), and Lord Zedd from the Power Rangers show in the 90's. But you know, I'm glad they added a companion for the symbiote-like alien. It's not every day that we see an alien with an alien dog running around (cue the sarcasm).
I'm not sure exactly what is going on with the story. I guess there are aliens that want to invade earth for reasons, have spacecraft flying around shooting, and have Venom running around to take on the world by himself. There is a magical key that somehow triggers satellites to shoot the mothership because...zzzzzzz.....sorry, I fell asleep while writing this. Um, yeah, the kids have to traverse mainly by foot to get somewhere and punch in some things on a computer to do some things. We are really lucky to have a character bleeding out morse code, or else the story would have been screwed. Seriously, morse code from drops of blood from a dead person is very impressive. I felt a little déjà vu while the kids ran into a kitchen at some point (cough, Jurassic Park), then into an outhouse (cough, cough, Jurassic Parkish?), rode some bikes (there you are, E.T.), and ran into some masked villains (hey, where'd you come from Purge?). Machamp was all over the place the entire film. At times, he'd be sticking his fingers or reproductive member into a kid's mouth (?), killing adults quickly and stalking around children, and then surprise everyone by Ex Machina'ing by killing Buffalo Bill (some guy in jail).
This will sound kind of counter-argumentative, but here it goes. There were brief moments in the beginning where I thought this was going to be a beautiful movie. I even looked at my wife and stated, "That's one thing Netflix always gets right (cinematography)." Whoops. I feel as though there were a hodge-podge of directors and cinematographers working on this thing at once. My biggest issue was the color filters. Why do you have to use yellow, blue, and purple filters in the first place? This was so jarring that it felt like a different movie altogether. Most of the set designs were God-awful, and that is putting it mildly. There were some competent moments, but not many of them.
Although the score was similar to a Kid's Bop version of Hans Zimmer, it wasn't all that terrible. I think some of the music was enjoyable, even though it was forced so hard down our throats similar to the alien sticking his reproductive member down someone's throat (there it goes again, you're welcome). There were rare times when the voices did not match up with the character's mouths, and that was unfortunate. One time, this was covered up rather obviously through a quick edit. Many of the sounds were generic, which is just acceptable.
Overall enjoyable: 2
You're probably thinking, "You just trashed the majority of this film, so why are you giving it a 2 for enjoyability?" Well, because many of the lines caught me laughing at times. This movie does not know what it wants to be, really. The constant back and forth with the childish and adult dialogue was strange, to say the least. All of those funny times, mixed with the ridiculousness of the plot/tropes actually made me treat the overall movie like a joke. There was one point where I wondered if that was the writer's intention all along, kind of campy and not meant to be taken remotely seriously. Even though I enjoyed it in a terrible kind of way, I really felt depressed because they had a great opportunity to make this a great movie. Just because I gave this section a 2 does not mean that I recommend this garbage in any way. Also...product placement by Adidas does not make this cool.