Before I get to the actual review of Galaxy Games a little bit of background is in order. While looking up writer/director Ben Carland’s (Survive, Shadows on the Wall) other credits I noticed he was credited with a film from 2021 called Sol Invictus, which is the actual name of the games the characters are competing in.
Checking it out, it’s obviously the same film, but with user reviews dating back to 2013. A further bit of searching found a couple of articles, including this one, dating back to 2011. So rather than a new movie, this is an eleven-year-old film that’s been released under a couple of titles, Sol and Sol Invictus already.
After a voiceover hyping the games to prospective participants and explaining them to us, we’re dumped on a beach where something has obviously gone very wrong. It seems the Stargate that was supposed to transport the teams to the site of the competition has malfunctioned. Most of the contestants are missing, presumed dead, and the remainder an assortment of roles from various teams.
The leader of The Geminis, the team with the most survivors, takes charge of a group that includes Eli (Caleb Courtney, I Am ZoZo, Brother and Sisterly Love: The Proposal), Tyl (Jake White, Children of the Corn, Captured), Kit (Spenser Pollard, The Hobby Stop), Lee (Jake Brown, The 7 Sword, Retreat) and Adrian (Aaron Kuban, Beneath Area 51, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!) the previous year’s winner who was disqualified for cheating.
It doesn’t take long before the usual problems begin to pop up. Most of their food was lost in the accident, the planet has hostile creatures, and rivalries between the various teams keep flaring up. Can they work together long enough to find a way back home or will they kill each other before the creatures do?
Galaxy Games feels like somebody took copies of The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies and Robert A. Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky and threw them in a blender. Then tried to film the result with about the same amount of money they spent on the books and the blender. Carland claimed Galaxy Games cost $150,000-$200,000 to film back in 2011, ($195,000 – $260,000 now), but it certainly doesn’t look like it.
All of their clothes, tents, etc look like they came off the shelf at the local Walmart and there’s no attempt to make the North Carolina oceanfront locations look alien. We do get to see some of the creatures, but their attack on the camp, which greatly reduces the size of the cast, happens off-screen.
Unfortunately, the script doesn’t offer any help either. Galaxy Games is full of unlikely events, such as Adrian being allowed to compete again. It also contradicts itself, we’re told victory goes to the team that meets the objectives first, But then Adrian is referred to as the previous winner, not part of a winning team. And they can’t seem to decide if they’re trying to survive until a rescue team shows up, or still trying to win. Although I’m not sure who they’re competing against.
But worst of all, Galaxy Games is just plain dull. The characters are annoying rather than sympathetic or even interesting and much of the film involves them wandering around on the beach making bad choices. It all feels very much like it was done as a film school graduation project. And while that’s how Dark Star and Luz were made, this isn’t even close to their level.
High Octane Pictures has released Galaxy Games to VOD and Digital platforms. You can check their Facebook page or the film’s website for more information. If you’re looking for something similar, but hopefully better, FilmTagger has some suggestions.