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Extraterrestrial


A close encounter of the awkward kind.

Rod Lott July 10th, 2012

One of the hotter tickets at last fall's Fantastic Fest was Extraterrestrial. I couldn't get in. I understood why at the time: It's the new film from Timecrimes director Nacho Vigalondo! Now that I've seen it, I wonder how many who did get in wish they hadn't. It's a huge disappointment.

extraterrestrial

The Spanish-language film is a boy-meets-girl story under the threat of an alien invasion. Julio (Julián Villagrán) and Julia (Michelle Jenner) awake in her apartment after a drunken one-night stand neither remembers. Of more concern is that the streets are empty and an alien ship hovers overhead menacingly.

They're pestered by a nosy neighbor (Carlos Areces, The Last Circus) — the only one left, apparently — and then Julia's boyfriend (Raúl Cimas) returns home. Despite this, Julio and Julia continue their budding sexual relationship, which creates a mess of jealousy.

And little else. With so few characters that you can count them on one hand, and largely taking place in one setting, Extraterrestrial is like an off-Broadway play. Or maybe an off-off-Broadway work that only friends come and see.

Luckily for Vigalondo, he has lots of friends in the film world after the thriller Timecrimes, which I still see as a work of mind-bending genius. Let me be clear that I was not expecting another Timecrimes here; with the absolute shift of genre, I really didn't expect anything. I merely hoped for a good time.

Yet I didn't care for any of the characters. I kept waiting for a plot to show its face, or at least conflict that didn't stem from who's genitals were merging with Julia's. My patience was rewarded with ... well, nothing.

The DVD contains four of Vigalondo's short films, most more satisfying than the feature, if only for brevity. One of them, "Domingo," could be viewed as a companion to Extraterrestrial, being a single shot of a static UFO while the couple behind the camcorder bickers. Another, "A Lesson in Filmmaking," also has something in common: not quite pointless, but smacking of pretension. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
The Last Circus Blu-ray review  



 
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