The Silver Sword (1956). The focus on teens fighting back as is all very Red Dawn (1984), but the level and tone is set more at JJ Abrams' Super 8 (2011), or even The Goonies (1985). Add to the mix the quintessential Spielberg trope of the absent father. The blend of influences does feel hackneyed, at certain junctures.
What it wants to be is a refreshing British take on Hollywood's traditional blockbuster domain, but therein lies the rub. Just as Martin Brody famously called for a bigger boat, what director Wright needed was a bigger budget. The special effects and accompanying set-pieces are mightily ambitious and, while sometimes imaginative and visually striking - especially when giant robots are contrasted with ordinary British streets and terraced houses - they can look a little on the rough and ready side. Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson are fine in their respective roles (which is a positive, because the younger cast members are a wee bit on the bland side.) The Oscar-winning actor hams it up a treat as an officious bureaucrat. With his little red bow tie, smarmy manner and snobbish comments, he secretly covets Anderson's worried mum. Elsewhere, Geraldine James pops up as a brassy East End gangster figure, who helps the kids along with their mission to save the day, find the missing dad, reunite the family and end the occupation.
Martyn Conterio | @Cinemartyn