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Alpha Rift


‘…this isn’t Harry Potter, but a throwback to classic 80’s and 90’s movies, and works well on these terms…’

A publicist sent me a well-written pitch for why I should review Dan Lantz’s Alpha Rift; I decided to bite, but had to admit that they’d ‘had me at Lance Henriksen’. Always a welcome presence, the veteran star of The Terminator and Aliens has had a storied career, and it was a real bonus to find he’s got lots of screen-time in this modern-day sword-and-sorcery adventure. Did I mention there are magic helmets in this film? That’s another positive trigger for this reviewer; I love anything with a magic helmet, an affectation that runs back to the 2011 Conan reboot and Stephen Lang’s classic line ‘With my magic helmet, I shall be indomitable…’ If you like that kind of cheese, you’ll like an individually wrapped slice of Alpha Rift.

After a brief prologue featuring Henriksen in a SWAT uniform, we arrive at the present day to find Nolan Parthmore (Aaron Dalla Villa) working in a games super-store. He’s been brought up on his father’s lore of knights and demons, and that turns out to be a useful grounding for what follows. After one such demon is unleashed during a heist of antiques owned by Corbin (Henriksen), a champion for mankind is needed, and it might just be our man Parthmore. Together with his geeky girlfriend (Rachel Nielsen in a Parappa the Rapper hat), Parthmore begins training to be a knight under Corbin’s tuition, but the demonically possessed Blades (Philip N Williams) is on a collision course with him…

Henriksen+Magic Helmet=Quality

I’m finding some quite polarised opinions on Alpha Rift online; it’s a love-it-or-hate it film to be sure, but I’m closer to the former camp. Sure, this has killings, demons, some light-and-almost swearing, but if it all seems familiar, it’s because Lantz leans hard into PG-13-ness, creating something that sits nicely alongside such films as Big Trouble in Little China or The Last Starfighter. It’s goofy, but also bright and cheerful, with some nice ideas; the magic helmet allows you to see two seconds ahead in time, and that explains how Parthmore can go from zero to hero in a few days before his trial by combat can start.

Alpha Rift also wins when it comes to casting; Dalla Villa looks about the same age as Michael J Fox in Back to the Future, and has the same boyish vibe, but he’s a seasoned performer with 60 credits on imdb. He’s a good match for Nielsen, who brings real pep to her supporting role, and for once, the acting of the leads provides a happy centre. This isn’t Harry Potter, but a throwback to classic 80’s and 90’s movies, and works well on these terms, even if, as often with low budget films, the finale is a bit underwhelming. And best of all there is Henriksen, tucking into reams of exposition with gusto, and striking the right serio-comic tone for this indomitable example of fantasy film-making…


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    • Hey Gill,

      Ok, I think I’ve got something written up from the late 70’s that will do. And I’ll be ready with my Roger Moore for the Bond one, they’re two different things, right?

      • They are two different things and if you want to me to do toss that coin there is the odd or Even one if you have another two posts… but that’s not til January if you don’t. Did you get my comment on Bad Boys btw??

    • I’m stoked to find that so many other people dig magic helmets. It’s one thing that always draws me to a film. This film amused me.

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