Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
Written by: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Julián Villagrán, Michelle Jenner,  Carlos Areces, Raúl Cimas
Synopsis: Two people deal with the aftermath of their one night stand as a UFO hovers over Madrid. 

As far as follow ups go, director Nacho Vigalondo's EXTRATERRESTRIAL is as far as you can get from his other film TIMECRIMES (LOS CRONOCRÍMENES). Yes, they are both technically dealing with science fiction, TIMECRIMES more so, but the tone and the style of both movies is so different that it's jarring, but in a very good way.

As a comedy, EXTRATERRESTRIAL works very well. There's a lot of snappy dialogue, with some minimal situational humor thrown in the mix. Being that the movie takes place in Spain, I was wondering if any of the jokes would have translated well. That's always the biggest fear I have about watching a movie in a foreign language specially when I can speak said language; Will it be able to convey it's message? Will it even be properly subtitled? I'm glad to say that this is a good translation, and the humor is lightweight and universal enough not to be confusing. If my audience's constant laughter is any indication, everyone that sees this will have a good time.

The set up is slacker-looking dude, Julio, hooking up with the insanely gorgeous, Julia.  After going through the awkward "morning after the one night stand" routine, they realize that not only is all of Madrid deserted, but there's a giant UFO hanging out. Not shortly after, Julia's boyfriend, Carlos, shows up to save the day. Once you add in a very creepy and obsessed neighbor, Ángel, to the group, you have a movie that is more a lighthearted mix of many genres ultimately dealing with the state of humanity and how we treat each other. I might be getting pretty deep here, but this movie made me laugh and think all at the same time.

This is one of the movies where the synopsis is deceptive and it might be a SPOILER, but this is NOT an alien movie. Yes, there is an alien prescence, but it is more of a catalyst and background plot device. The importance here are the characters, and the way that they interact with each other.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was when Ángel states his theory for the reason the alien spaceships were not doing anything but just floating there. Then I knew this movie was more than just a "sci-fi rom com" as has been advertised. He said (paraphrased), "What if they're just testing us to see how we react? Are we brave? Are we scared?" The answer is that even with a UFO hovering around their cities, a group of four people will continue to be that, just a group of people. And given the confusing feelings coming from the aftermath of the initial hook up, Julio and Julia are forced to come up with a lie that has huge repercussions. Not only is it fascinating to see what a lie can become when it grows and festers between a small group of people, but it's an example of the theme that even if people are shitty, they are inherently good.

While I have tons of love for the movie, there are some issues with the way that the story unfolds that trouble me a little bit. The middle third of the movie stalls a bit, and much like the characters in the story, there are some funny bits that occur involving explosives, but they fail to really drive the story anywhere especially when there are bigger story issues at hand. I'm not going to lie when I say that some of the things that occur in the last part of the movie left me scratching my head. I understand that there were lots of little things that were set up to pay off later, but their execution was a little awkward. When the climactic confrontation occurred, I was just baffled at the gullibility of one of the characters that I felt that the movie was ending quickly for the sake of ending without having paid off the set ups.

I'm not sure if this movie will be as universally loved like TIMECRIMES because it is a little bit more ambitious in my opinion. While the third act does not work for me, I felt this was one of my favorite movies of the festival and a worthy addition to the filmography of Nacho Vigalondo. I can't wait to see what he does next. It will probably be some Charles Dickens adaptation the way he's jumping from genre to genre.

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