zaterdag 10 oktober 2015

Today's Review: The Visit: An Alien Encounter

Some reviewing has been done again:

The Visit: An Alien Encounter - recensie

Aliens visiting our Earth: it can happen, you know?

This is without a doubt a very intriguing premise, but the end result leaves something to be desired. Blame it on the approach, stemming from the lack of archive material to cover, since The Visit: An Alien Encounter revolves around an event that hasn't happened yet and might not ever happen at all. Of course, some dramatization is required when there's little else to show but talking heads. Director Michael Madsen (not the American actor of the same name) opts for an enactment of a possible visit by extraterrestrials, but one that does not show said visitors so as to keep it a complete mystery what they look might like, since we are not likely to find out any time soon. The result is only one side of the visit in question is shown, and it's our own. Which fits the conclusion that whatever else, aliens arriving on our planet will first and foremost be a human affair.

First contact will change the way we look at ourselves. Whatever the visitors may look like - similar to humans or something far from it, something so devoid of human characteristics or even traits of other life forms that share our planet - they will place a mirror in front of us as to the questions of our expectations of the unknown, our control or lack thereof over the unknown, and the resulting dealing with the unknown in ways that are all too human. Fear, a very likely scenario, is a prime human condition Madsen addresses, which is why the governments that prepare for 'The Visit' would hope to keep it a quite affair, rather than a public one, considering the ways the public responds are more than likely to be far from calm and orderly. But however controlled those governments plan to keep things, there's so many possibilities provided by our complete lack of knowing what's coming (or what is not coming at all) that control itself is ever an illusion.

What's left out of the equation is wonder. Most of the scientists interviewed for this film are so busy delving into the ramifications of the visitors' arrival for humankind that they don't tend to pause and wonder over the eventual happening itself. The very fact that this may actually come to pass, in the distant or even close future. You can't really blame them, as they're sitting opposite a camera, addressing the audience as if they were the visitor and are asked to state the first questions regarding their field expertise that enter their minds considering the subject. And then they turn out the dutiful experts indeed. Though it makes for a scientifically intriguing and philosophically appropriate film, it's not the most inspiring one. Madsen hopes to hold off any stale science talk and lack of pace by adding a bit of action in a recreation of The Visit, complete with frightened mobs and charging soldiers, but his stylistic choices of extreme slow motion give it all an overly sensational and exaggerated feeling. Once again, blame it on the absence of actual extraterrestrials to point the camera at.

The Visit: An Alien Encounter is an ambitious and fascinating documentary on paper, but in actuality can't hold off moments of feeling tedious. Nevertheless, the point is well made: if there's aliens coming, be prepared for everything. Some of our governments and scientists certainly are.

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