The most notable cinematic aliens to visit Monatana (since the Star Trekkers brought the Borg) have landed there and in eleven other global locations. Linguist, Dr. Louise Banks, (Amy Adams) and Theoretical Physicist, Ian Donnelly, (Jeremy Renner) are sent to work out what they want. All global locations are on high alert as they try to work together in the race for a breakthrough. The U.S. Military is represented by a benign Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) while intelligence is served by an obtuse Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg).
Director Denis Villeneuve delivers the action at a slow and steady rate; his sense of apprehension-building makes the film seem to have more pace than it actually does. The majority of scenes are interiors; mixed with the apprehension, this gives the film an appropriately claustrophobic and tense quality. The Sci-fi elements are set into a more grounded world to which we can relate. It follows more in the vein of Interstellar, Moon or Contact rather than the spectacles and high ideals of Star Wars and Star Trek. It is refreshingly subdued and contained for the sci fi genre.
All performances are appropriately understated; Amy Adams gives a subtle, thoughtful and retro-reflective performance as a bereaved mother and we are given a series of somewhat disconnected yet touching memories of her relationship with her daughter as she battles to understand the Alien dialect. Jeremy Renner does his Jeremy Renner thing, with glasses because he is a mathematician, but does not feel out of place while doing it. Forest Whitaker brings an almost too benign and understanding quality to his Army Colonel and following with the film’s muted tone Stuhlbarg’s spiteful investigator is wonderfully snide rather than brash and loud.
There is an already contentious feature spliced into the plot which is no more bizarre than Interstellar and already some people are finding silly. While it could have dug deeper into an explanation of a few of these plot devices I still found it to be gentle, cozy and delivered endearingly despite its simplicity. It would sit comfortably beside “A.I.” in a sci-fi collection.
I came away with a warm content monies-worth feeling. Overall it worked for me.
Arrival on IMDB
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Advance screening courtesy of beActive
Six people are transported into the future and find themselves at CERN in Switzerland in the year 2018 only to discover that the Earth is a poisoned Post-Apocalyptic wasteland. Their goal is to reach the CERN Collider and set it in motion with the chance that it will send them back to their own time and change their own histories and that of the earth as well.
Collider is adapted from a graphic novel of the same name. From a birds eye view the plot is a cross between Twelve Monkeys and Pitch Black. The six characters philosophise whether they have been given a chance to rewrite their own histories but first they must learn to trust each other while battling vaguely unnspecified elements that have all but killed the population of the earth. It is a mish-mash of familiar sci-fi themes but from the trailer there was enough to pique the interest of any sci-fi fan.
Sadly the lack of originality is only one of the problems for this film. The initial fault has to lie with writer Nuno Bernardo who is also a producer. The screenplay is full of plot holes, dialogue that tells us what is happening as opposed to letting us work it out for ourselves, self-aware stereotypical characters and a story that in many places simply does not make sense.
But the Collider film was originally a graphic novel and is only part of the puzzle, as it is being launched across several platforms, including, webisodes and an app/game. Perhaps it makes more sense when viewed in conjunction with them but as a stand-alone film it is more than disappointing.
This is the third sci-fi either filmed in Ireland or written and directed by Irish people since 2012. In this order Lockout, Earthbound, and now Collider have become progressively worse. Despite Lockout’s cheesy script matched only by Guy Pearce’s cheesy performance it was a bit of fun as long as you left your brain at the door and filled your head with popcorn, with slick production values in other areas like direction and camerawork. Earthbound was a sweet love story with screenplay, continuity and perhaps budget concerns.
We have more than enough talent in front of and behind the camera and there will be a time soon when Ireland will produce a decent sci-fi!
Collider is in Irish cinemas now