There are movies that pleasantly surprise you. Then there’s this third feature film by the Lammiman brothers, Dallas and Greg: Greg’s the writer; Dallas is the director. The “surprise” behind the film: it eschews the usual apocalypse trappings of man battling the prophesied Beast of Revelations.
Instead — with an influence of such Young Adult Films as The Hunger Games and Divergent franchises, but with the scrappy-inventivness of a Roger Corman ’80s space opera, e.g., Battle Beyond the Stars — we get a science fiction updating of the tale of the Mayflower. That fabled vessel and its passengers left England in 1620 to separate themselves from the Church of England, so as to find religious freedom; they eventually ended up in a “new Promised Land” in America, where they established the Plymouth Colony on the coast of Massachusetts.
Now, the new Mayflower II will transport persecuted Christians to an established utopian colony on Mars. However, as with most secular science fiction films dealing with “utopias” — for me, since I recently reviewed it, the Italian sci-horror import, Crucified (2021), comes to mind — that “promised land” is more corrupt and oppressive than the land the downtrodden left behind: this one overlorded by a defacto-styled Antichrist named Nero.
The questions the film ponders: As a believer, where do you stand with God? Faced with persecution for your beliefs, will you chose to follow the authority of man or rise up in revolt and remain faithful to God? Which is the greater fear in your life: God or man?
Needless to say, we are up against-the-budget, here, so, as with most Christian films: the main goal is to spread the world of the Lord, while providing wholesome, alternative entertainment for those off-put by secular science fiction films. As such, and referring back to films such as the Kendrick brothers’ (of Sherwood Pictures fame) really fine Flywheel: we’re dealing with a lot of first time actors and crew members, some professional; others volunteers, so the acting is rough in spots; some thespin’ better than others.
There’s very little in the way of shot-in-camera practical effects (what film today really has them), and what practical effects there are, well . . . the weapons look like (expertly) retrofitted Nerf rifles and pistols — and probably are (the lightning-bolt disruptor rays are decent, as are the holograms and touch screen controls; the surveillance drones are production-solid). There’s not much in the “futuristic” costuming department, but what little there is — in the way of the old, retrofitted hockey-motocross geared-up soldiers gag, and the off-the-Nutcracker-costume-rack military dresses — it looks just as good as any VHS’er of the video shelf ’80s or the Syfy Channel (before the double “y”) direct-to-DVD romps of the ’90s. The space ship interiors aren’t as effective as an old Roger Corman ’80s space opera, but certainly better than, and not as goofy-chinzy as, an Alfonzo Brescia ’80s Star Wars rip (Star Odyssey). The CGI work, however, while not exactly Star Trek: The Next Generation — but wants to be — is (very) effectively close to the style of that series.
As for the story . . . well, if you’re into secular science fiction, and appreciate obscure, low-budget productions (such as my recent “Outer Space Week” reviews of Hyper Space and Space Chase, for example), you may be willing to watch. But even I have to agree: the woe-is-me, Christians-are-perpetually-persecuted plotting is a bit hokey-to-swallow. But we are dealing with the tale of the Mayflower meets the prophecies of Revelations, and, as far as Christian believers are concerned: that future threat is real and they’re committed to that belief. And you have to respect that spiritual focus.
And this film from the Lammiman brothers is an equally committed film. And a commendable one at that. And I appreciate their focus on creating wholesome, yet relevant, entertainment. I am glad I discovered Mayflower II, by accident, as I descended down a Tubi rabbit hole. I enjoyed watching it and I await the Lammiman brothers’ next, ambitious production.
You can watch Mayflower II on the Christian Movies You Tube portal or on Tubi. You can also stream it ad-free on Amazon Prime’s Dove portal. We love it when those who worked on the film find our heart-felt reviews and enjoy them — and clear up the bad web-Intel. Thanks, Lyndall!