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Justin Lin-Directed 360-Degree Short Film Brings an Alien Invasion to Life

Note to readers: Play this video on your phone through the Stories Spotlight app rather than on your computer, trust us. 

Although we still have to waituntil July for director Justin Lin’s take on Star Trek with Star Trek Beyond, this new 360-degree video he made for Google gives us at least a brief visual treat to satiate our lust for action and aliens. Except the alien in this short film is definitely not from the Star Trek Universe. It’s more like Godzilla. Or maybe Squirtle.

The video, entitled HELP, is the first live-action video produced for Google’s Spotlight Stories. In HELP, viewers are treated to a classic—and extremely simplified—alien invasion scenario. The story takes place in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, and begins with what looks like meteors sailing through the sky and crashing into the city. From there, we follow one specific alien, who chases after a woman and a male cop out of what seems to be classic extraterrestrial bloodlust. There are twists in the short narrative however, including the alien growing from dog-sized to oh-crap-there-goes-the-ctiy-sized quite rapidly.

The experience of the video is reminiscent of 90s arcade shooters like Virtua Cop or Area 51, in that it drags you along on a ride that’s constantly moving. Also, there’s a lot of shooting at aliens and brightly lit blue tunnels.

A couple of logistical issues should be noted in general here. First off, the video is available in 4K, which is gorgeous, but will likely lag your internet connection and/or computer; if you opt for 4K, you’ll probably want to let the video load for a while before playing.

Secondly, the video is way cooler if you play it on your phone (the Spotlight Stories app works on iOS or Android). Moving your viewing perspective around the story world by moving your phone around is definitely more of an immersive experience, or at least novel enough to make you say “oh, cool.” Also, according to the Spotlight Stories homepage, using your phone allows you to “unlock mini-stories within the story.” But be warned, HELP alone is 500MB.

If you want to check out more Spotlight Stories, you can find them here. Although they’re definitely not as alien and action-packed as Lin’s. And as far as Star Trek Beyond, one thing it definitely won’t have is 360 degree video. But maybe in the near future Lin will boldly go where no director has gone before and make a 360-degree feature…

What do you think of this 360-degree short film? Invade the comments section below with your thoughts!

Images: Google Spotlight Stories

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