Tag Archives: tracking shot

All is not what it seems – UFO review

20 Dec

 

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 11.42.02

Nowadays, when you think of a low-budget British film, you’d normally associate the term with some form of Hackney based, gang culture film not too far from the likes of Kidulthood, or My Brother The Devil. That genre is slowly declining and new ambitious film-makers are stepping outside of that particular box to try their hand and something new, and sci-fi film UFO provides a refreshing break to that mold.

Director Dominic Burns brings to the big screen a small budget sci-fi movie with hints of Transformer-esq effects in this tale of human survival during an invasion of those not of our kind. The great thing about this film, and perhaps the misleading element from the poster is that the story is not directlyScreen Shot 2012-12-20 at 11.44.51 about ghoulish looking creatures from a universe far far away, but more about the reaction from humankind amidst tragedy, invasion, and imminent destruction.

To show a sample study of how the world may react, UFO focuses on a group of friends who, after a night out on the tiles awake to find that the end is nigh. Lead by Michael played by Sean Brosnan (the look and sound-a-like to his father Pierce) this small group of friends take under their wing Carrie (Bianca Bree – the not so look or sound alike to her father Jean Claude Van-Damme) who after a one night stand seems to have become Michael’s latest squeeze and an immediate addition to their circle of friends. The film follow’s how each of the characters react to the present situation and to each other at a time of crisis, and as the story unfolds, even within their close knit circle, things really aren’t all what they seem.

You have to commend this film for its bold storyline and yet intimate portrayal of its characters. This is a character study and not a Hollywood action film. The aliens are secondary in the plot, but you can understand the distributors point of view as to what marketing would be more likely to put bums on seats. Where the budget has been spent on the effects, you will see that they are well done, and carefully thought about, and not just a gimic to behold.

The director has also thought carefully about the portrayal of certain heightened sequences, such as the supermarket in Derby where the cast manage to break in through a side door to stock up on supplies before the rest of the public. In the same breath in which you think the characters would take as

The UFO premiere in Leicester Square

The UFO premiere in Leicester Square

they burst through the doors and quickly gathered what they needed, the audience follow them in what seems to be a ten minute tracking shot which never leaves their side. This helps keep the tension at an all time high as you seem to be in there, experiencing every moment with them.

In addition to this, the fight scenes are excellent, with one standout showdown between Michael and a police officer. Again, like the single tracking shot through the supermarket, you as an audience member get a sense of tension throughout this sequence, which in places almost verge on becoming ultra-violent. The choreography is commendable here and you definitely get the sense that this is a real fight, where the characters are getting naturally exhausted, and don’t just keep going for the sake of it. In a strange way, this section is probably the most natural bit of acting you will see throughout the film.

Unfortunately the problems that do arise in the film, are not anything to do with its ambition or technical ability, it’s with the performances. The beginning of the film seems like a warm up until the actors can really settle into their roles and even then, you just don’t quite believe them. Bianca Bree is the most natural in delivery and reaction, you believe her in most instances, and for a leading lady in this case, less really is more. Sean Brosnan allows you to forget that he served in the army at a high level as he loses the assertiveness of a commanding officer until he is provoked for a fight scene or the like, and his imbalance is somewhat problematic. However,

Director Dominic Burns and me at the UFO premiere

Director Dominic Burns and me at the UFO premiere

sadly it is the support cast that for me let this film down. The drunken scene at the beginning lacks maturity in its performance, and feels contrived and over acted plus the difference between relatively new on-screen actors and seasoned professionals such as Sean Pertwee and Jean Claude Van Damme becomes very apparent when their cameos appear on-screen and in an instant steal the show.

However, that being said, its great that a film maker like Dominic Burns is taking chances on unknowns and mixing them in with more experienced performers. I’m sure the actors will watch and learn from their performances here, and go on to do bigger and better things, and I’m a great believer in British film nurturing new talent in all shapes and forms.

So if you are planning on watching UFO when it hits selected cinema. Enjoy it for what it is, an ambitious project from an ambitious film-maker who has created something away from the expected low-budget British film genre and pushed the boundaries of budget and technical ability. For all its faults, it’s an enjoyable, engaging film, commendable on a number of different levels.