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Feature Review - Arrivals - Prologue and Rachel

By midlandsmovies, Jul 18 2017 05:52PM



Arrivals - Prologue and Episode 1 - Rachel

Dir. John McCourt

April Just Gone Films


Local company April Just Gone Films took a brave step in releasing a 127 second prologue episode for their new sci-fi series Arrivals. The reason it is brave is because of the time they have allowed to set the tone and objectively speaking it is a mixed bag.


In this short time we, as a viewer, understand the basic idea that will underpin the series thanks to a series of opening interrogations wherein we meet our characters and the strangeness of their date of birth and from this viewpoint the episode no doubt meets its purpose.


However the episode is a little unappealing, not a fault of the film makers per se, who do the best through editing and camera angles to keep it visually stimulating but there is very little you can do with multiple character introductions.


To add to this - within meeting a couple of these persons of interest we quickly understand the point, meaning that the remaining introductions are somewhat superfluous, at least until the final one, Lilith. How many of these characters will be important going forwards I am unsure but each is given so little time that no connections can be made. It feels simply like your first day at work meeting everyone, a little overwhelming without the opportunity to build any real attachment.


Thankfully there is a superb short within the series that has also been completed called 'Rachel', which at just over ten minutes long does allow for not only more elaboration but also more narrative, one which focuses on just one of these 'arrivals' that we met in the earlier episode.


Incorporating just three actors, two interrogating male agents and the eponymous Rachel, the acting is of a good standard for this level of production but a special mention has to go to Lois Cowley for her portrayal of the mysterious woman.


Although the credit really belongs to the writer (and producer and director) John McCourt who displays genuine talent and his work on this later episode is to be commended. Especially as writing a ten minute three way conversation is no easy feat even for the most seasoned of writing professionals.


McCourt manages to lead us through the interrogative dance with ease working in moments of obtuse humour, literary reference and spy intrigue. As a result the ten minutes of this episode seem to fly by especially in comparison to the much shorter prologue.


Arrivals is clearly an intriguing concept, although one that seems familiar, with a potentially strong overriding story arc but its success will depend on the film makers ability to handle the pacing of what is certainly going to be a dialogue heavy but visually restricted journey.


Although the prologue didn't quite work for me it did get the key messages across leading into the second episode and I have no doubt was part of a wider story. So give Arrivals a watch once a couple more episodes are available as it has got me intrigued and I am sure you will be too.


McCourt shows that you do not need a big budget or fancy visuals to grab a viewers attention and I certainly hope he can maintain it.


Midlands Movies Marek


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