Kill Command Blu-ray Review
Surprisingly strong small-scale sci-fi
Despite its unbelievably low budget - reportedly only $1 Million - the sci-fi action thriller Kill Command capably blends elements of Predator, Terminator and Aliens, although it could also be seen as a welcome companion piece to the low budget gem, The Machine.This indie feature throws a small squad of soldiers onto a seemingly uninhabited island for a training exercise involving A.I. controlled opponents, but when their targets start retaliating and using the team's own tactics against them, the training exercise becomes a fight for survival. Although familiar genre tropes abound in this narrative, Kill Command does offer up a few nice ideas, mostly revolving around the 'enhanced' human team member Mills, whose forced presence in the group is viewed with the disdain and distrust, but whose interaction with the opposing drones gives the story a unique flavour. Indeed, whilst her place might be easily compared to that of Lance Henriksen's synthetic, Bishop, in Aliens, she's actually a little bit more like a gifted animal trainer who attempts to interact with and even control the seemingly uncontrollable runaway mechanical beasts.The near-unknown cast help maintain tension - whilst they are all TV and movie veterans, none of them have had any significant lead roles, leaving the fate of their characters an absolute mystery; anybody and everybody is up for being hunted down and executed here. And for such a low budget indie flick, they all do surprisingly well in the roles, with the most prominent characters getting the most distinction, but even the less important supports holding their own. The effects are perhaps the most surprising element, with the 1100 effects shots allowing the film to look surprisingly good in an age of large scale CG blockbuster fare. It's not perfect, but it is impressive, particularly for the budget, and the AI creations are positively menacing as they stalk their human prey. Indeed, Kill Command does justice to all of the classics that it gleefully references, and the result is a surprisingly enjoyable indie gem.
Picture QualityKill Command's solid Blu-ray presentation promotes it's surprisingly good effects with precision.
The UK Region B-locked Blu-ray release sports a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Blending the effects into the live action rather well, considering the budget, Kill Command employs various stylistic forms of visual trickery to keep you from realising the full extent of the limitations of the effects and, for the most part, these work. In the meantime, detail pops precisely when it has to, on skin textures and background details; clothing weaves and electronic/mechanical structures - with the tech-enhanced irises popping out against the backdrop. The muted tones and intentionally murky stylisation of the film helps give the setting a more atmospheric feel, but leaves black levels somewhat variable at times although, by and large, any visual anomalies are kept to a bare minimum - overall this is a very good video presentation for this little gem.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also does the job nicely.
With an engaging, suitably menacing score thrumming in the background, Kill Command rides on tense thrills in the quiet - with precise atmospherics - and upon sheer blunt force trauma during the military skirmishes - which offer up a fairly hefty punch. Dialogue remains clear and coherent for the greater part of the proceedings - whether in the whispers or shouts, with only some of the AI vocals coming across with some difficulty. Effects are well rendered, from the small to the large, with the creepy woodland environment crackling with ambience whilst the explosive setpieces deliver some thundering gunshots - .50 Cal-sounding sniper fire pervading from both sides. It's a punchy, precise and impressive score for this small-scale endeavour.
ExtrasA couple of small Featurettes - Behind the Scenes and Behind the VFX - offer up some limited insight into the production.
VerdictKill Command is a surprisingly good small-scale sci-fi offering that's better than many of its bigger budget peers.
Sure, it may borrow heavily from a number of genre classics, but the end result has still got a fresh edge, and a nice USP in the tech enhancements that some of the characters have. Similarly the effects may not stand up against those in its blockbuster counterparts, but they still impress for the million dollar budget it was reportedly made for.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get faithful and largely impressive video and audio as well as a couple of Featurettes that prevent it from being completely bare-bones. It's a solid release for a great little gem that's well worth checking out.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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