The weekend's enterainment was The Silencers
which I thought was actually a pretty good movie. It's very low budget and has some plot deficiences, but makes up for it with a lot of energy and some likeable characters.
The short story is that a few decades ago, a spaceship landed on earth. The aliens have been providing the US government with advanced technology in exchange for using some of that technology to build a portal (hyperspace? stargate? something like that) back to the aliens homeworld. The aliens are the infamous Men In Black, who threaten anyone who sees UFOs, and work for/with the government.. However, the aliens real missions is to get the portal built so that an army from their homeworld can come through it to invade the earth. In the first test of the portal, another alien comes through, from a different star-system then our previous aliens. He's a good guy and he's on a mission to destory the portal so the invasion can't happen. The bad guy aliens are called "Macabbiens" and are from near Orion. The good guy alien (Dennis Christopher) is named Comdor and is from Era in the Pleiades. He's captured by the bad guys, but escapes and joins up with Rafferty (Jack Scalia), a secret service agent who's already run into the MiB when they killed a Senator he was protecting. So they're off to destroy the portal while avoiding the Macabbiens and hopefully get Comdor home. Along the way, they learn that friends of Rafferty in the government have been replaced by clones, take a short trip to see Rafferty's ex-wife and son, and get some help from some UFO buffs at a convention.What was good:
The Budget - The budget was obviously low, but they used it well. Not a lot of effects shots and the ones they had were faily crude: a cow being sucked up into a space ship was obviously a cow on a platform being raised manually, most of the rest of the effects seemed to be fairly basic computer editing, such as t he swirling portal, the sonic blast trick used by Comdor and the lead Orion, Lekin, at different points, etc.. They were simple but effective and the story keeps them minimalized.
Comdor - he was a lot of fun. Playing an alien from a world of environmetal harmony and peace on an Earth that doesn't know of aliens, etc...that setup can go wrong really easily. The alien could've been judgemental about earthling's environmental and violence issues. There could've been a lot of annoying and distracting stuff about Comdor either not knowing stuff about earth or trying to hide from humans or some such. The script handles the character very well and Dennis Christopher was a lot of fun to watch. At one point , Rafferty hands Comdor a pistol because they are under fire from MiBs and Comdor almost shoot his own foot off. Comdor bemusdely says "primitive". He doesn't say it with disdain for the technology, nor is it played too humourously because, after all, their lives are in danger and being too funny would take away the tension. A lot of scenes are like that; play it too light and the movie loses energy, play it too serious and Comdor would be annoying.
The Chase - here's where the budget went; stunts and explosions, and it was well spent. About one third of the way through the movie, Rafferty is trying to move cargo in a semi (unbeknownst to him, it's Comdor) when he's attacked by the MiB. So the chase involves a semi, several support cars, and several persuing cars racing down the highway on the wrong side into oncoming traffic. With both Rafferty and a MiB ending up crawling around (and falling off) the semi. This was very well done and if you see this and Matrix: Reloaded, it's easy to see the simularities, except this movie came out several years before so it would be easy to say Matrix ripped this scene off. However, The Silencers actually seems to work better because it never drops into slow motion. The action is fast paced; the stunt driving and stunt work very well done. I particularly enjoyed watching a fast moving car explode, seen from the side, and given how far and fast the car moves horizonally, the car must've been moving at a fairly good clip. This is a big improvment from moving car explosions that come from a front prespective that hides if the car is even moving or not. All told, the whole scene gives you a feeling of movement..fast movement and relentless movement.
The geeks - the UFO fans who help Rafferty and Comdor in the end just seem like geeks, and the actually seem appropriate. They know the governments been lying to them and they want to get the truth out, but hand 'em a gun and they're really out of their element and it shows well. Minor point but I liked how they were handled.What was not good
Some of the photography was a bit dark and hard to make out what was happening. This happened even in bright outside shots that looked like the contrast was up to high because the scenes were both bright and dark at the same time.
The details of the story: There were a lot of minor quibbles in the writing itself; just stuff that didn't hold together:
There seemed a bit too much effort to try to tie the Orions into the MiB stories of UFO fame, but it felt a little forced and led to some curiousities. Why were the aliens kidnapping cows anyway? Just how long have they been on Earth trying to develop this portal? At one point Comdor mentions he is 370 years old so I guess an invasion plane that takes at least 4+ years to develop is acceptable but.....
An invasion plan that relies on sending a spaceship to a distant planet, giving the locals high technology in a deal in which they use the technology to build a portal back to the home planet, which takes decades to accomplish, in order to send through an invasion force that can conquer the planet in 24 hours seems a bit unrealistic
I also never really understood why the Senator was assassinated anyway, other than to introduce us to some main characters and set up some of the situations
Related to this is the whole motivation for The Chase. It seems that Comdor is in government custody and Lekin wants him, but the General who's sorta the alien's liason with the US gov refuses. The General then has Rafferty responsible for getting the truck from..one place to another..which is when the MiBs attack it (The Chase) It seems like, given the Orion's connections with the government and technology and other abilities, they would've had no trouble getting to Comdor at the final destination, or killing the Senator, in simpler, less crude, and less publically obvious manners. While both scenes did set up some very well done action scenes, they seemed a bit contrived.Other Notes
Dennis Christopher reminded me a lot of Matthias Hues. I almost could have seen Marc Singer in the role, as well, for his personaility (or maybe Marc Singer or the director of "Beast Master II" should've watched this movie to get a better idea of how to handle the 'stranger in a strange land' scenario better)
I couldn't quite figure out the Portal, it's supposed to be a way for the soldier's from Orion (all six of them, it seems) to get to Earth, but Comdor also uses it to get to Earth and then get home. Maybe the portal is really an intersteller on-ramp that you can use to get to and from many places?
The box is a bit misleading; it seems to suggest a sort of 'who are they' mystery but...who they are and why they're here are exposed pretty quick.Summary
This one is worth watching. There are holes in the story that seem contrived or forced, but there are parts to the writing that are really good that allow you to grant the movie a break. Most importantly, the writing handles Comdor, Rafferty, and their interaction well and since they spend a lot of time on screen, especially together, it's easy to look past "why is this scene in here?" and focus on "this scene works well"
Post Edited (01-26-04 11:54)