It was the little touches that made me drink the kool aid HARD on this one - the fact that the little character quirks, such as Adam Driver's nervous thumbs up in the helicopter at the beginning just screamed Hooper crossed with Charles Martin Smith in Starman; the fact that the film cuts from the films goons knocking on the door of someone close to Kirsten Dunst immediately to them at Dunst's house - it doesn't have to show you what happened and you don't need to know, the film treats you with a degree of intelligence that you don't have to see and understand every little thing; and that simple piano motif on the soundtrack that almost had me switching this off and reaching for JCs The Fog.......all of these little things add up to the fact that you are watching a greatest hits of all those fantastic 80s genre flicks - CE3K, ET and Starman are its touchpoints and by god, did I fall hard for this film.
Its opening act is almost perfectly structured - it gives you just enough to hook you in, but leaves enough questions unanswered to keep your interest, without annoying you or have you screaming at the screen. The people on the run, the sinister cult, the government agency on their tales......and just enough glimpses of the boy and his gifts to really grab you. As the film goes on, even as structurally the middle act is very traditional, especially in light of those films already mentioned, the characters gradually take your interest over, again by just giving you enough about them without showing everything - a single line of dialogue is all you need to know who and why Joel Edgerton is there, Michael Shannon's face as he drives away from the site of the crashed goon car shows every emotion a father could feel at that point with no dialogue at all. And of course the boy - who is almost completely mute apart from those little flourishes of his powers and those little lines he feeds to his parents, reassuring them everything will be ok.
Then we get to third act and I fell in love with it all again. So much great stuff here:So all in, this was ruddy marvellous - a true homage to those superb sci-fi films of our youth with exactly the same tone and feel of them. Stupidly recommended.The look on Shannon's face as he drops the kid and Dunst off to get to where they need to go with him being the decoy....man I almost teared up, realising he wouldn't get to say goodbye! And the ultimate pay off? That big alternative reality/dimensional city scape? And the other beings design of those glowing eyes and not a lot else? Yep, loved it. We didn't need to know where all the aliens came from in CE3K or why ET was here or anything about those classic aliens and to not know anything about these just felt......right. Totally loved it.
The transfer was really good, but without ever being superb. The picture quality was nicely sharp (the use of anamorphic lenses meant that there was absolutely as it should be softness around the edges of the frame), with the deep blacks of night and lovely warm hues of the daytime coming across really well. The lossless 5.1 surround track had some immense LFE, almost entirely in the score! It wasn't quite as all enveloping as it could have been (car chases, helicopters everywhere, etc), but it had some real 'ooomph' to it when needed. Extras were just a handful of interviews with all the cast and a few of the crew - only bothered with the Nicholls one and its typical EPK fluff. Pah.
Summary - ruddy loved this glorious throwback to the 80s sci-fi classics we know and have never been bettered. Superb tone and feel marries with a great plot structure and characters and a narration that doesn't treat you like a simpleton. The transfer is strong too, so all in this is a massive recommendation from me.