Netflix's Stranger Things certainly proved to be a hit on the streaming service when it debuted in 2016, immediately winning over legions of new fans with its aura of mystery, sci-fi, horror and coming-of-age sweetness. The nostalgic trip to the '80s, along with the Stephen King and Lovecraftian influences felt like a breath of fresh air.

Now, we're not saying lightning would automatically strike twice, but Netflix recently had a movie on its hands which could have been just as epic a franchise as the Duffer Brothers' series had it been fleshed out more. It may be a bold compliment at this point, especially as Stranger Things has become a worldwide phenomenon, but that's the kind of potential Rim of the World holds in spades.

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It's no secret that audiences love feel-good stories with teens saving the world. That's the premise Stranger Things is based on, and we've seen it as far back as movies like The Goonies and Ernest Scared Stupid. What gives Stranger Things added edge is how it pits innocent teens against the government, as well as dark forces from the Upside Down, all while trying to save its central heroine in a twist on the E.T. mythos. To top it off, Eleven being a telekinetic, portal-opening, monster-hunting weapon of mass destruction adds to the overall fanfare and kickass nature of the show.

And it's this kind of crusade that makes Rim of the World a straight-up alien invasion spin on the Dungeons & Dragons franchise from which Strangers Things was inspired. It focuses on a similar group of teens at the titular camp in Pasadena, struggling to find their cliques when an alien invasion hits. You've got Alex (Jack Gore), a timid 13-year old similar to Will Byers, being protected by Gabriel (Alessio Scalzotto), the same way Mike Wheeler looked after his buddy when the Upside Down wouldn't let him go. Only this time, Alex is tasked, not with extinguishing a Mind Flayer, but with transporting data on a USB to the Jet Propulsion Lab in California to NASA specialists and the U.S. army.

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An American spaceship fell to Earth and an astronaut gave the kids this key, putting them on an adventure a la The Fellowship of the Ring, except they're on their own. They quickly put aside differences and bond to save the world, with Zhen Zhen (Miya Cech) joining up as the runaway warrior from China a la Eleven, as well as Dariush (Benjamin Flores Jr.), a spoiled brat who feels like a mix of Lucas and Dustin.

But those comparisons aside, they all feel pretty original and have a somewhat different dynamic to what the Duffer Brothers' cast has. After all, they're not hiding and carrying out their schemes in secret behind parents' backs. They're stuck in a quarantined zone, with alien EMPs rendering technology dead.

To make it worse, they've got a creature that feels like a mix of the Demodogs and Avengers' Outriders hunting them. This makes their quest, all in broad daylight, even more dangerous because when the army tries to help the kids, they get annihilated. It's a way grittier story, as the bike-riding crew even meet wicked humans a la The Walking Dead, quickly washing away the jokes and campy vibe to turn the film into something darker.

While Hawkins' story upkeeps its levity, this burning California adventure here has stakes along the lines of Independence Day and Battle L.A., with way more high-octane chases, explosions, jet fights and action sequences as a whole. By the time the struggling and outmanned teens reach the lab of salvation (again, similar to Mike and Co. in the first two seasons), they still have to fight off aliens and help the government launch a missile system to take out the Mother Ship. And so, it becomes quite apparent at this point there's just too much being crammed into under 90 minutes.

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A slow burn of a series would have done this justice as Rim of the World feels like it was meant to be split up we could get more background on the teens, what happened in space to the astronauts when the aliens raided their capsules, how humanity managed to fall apart and why the army couldn't handle this attack. These beats could have easily filled out an order seven or eight episodes, detailing the resistance against the galactic Upside Down much better.

Starring Jack Gore, Alessio Scalzotto, Miya Cech and Annabeth Gish, Rim of the World is available to stream now on Netflix. 

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