AN EMPIRE OF WORDS

Earthbound (2012)

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Earthbound, is a peculiar science-fiction romantic(ish) comedy, whereby Rafe Spall plays a 20-something man, believing he is a refugee stuck on planet Earth, awaiting a beacon from his home planet, Zlaxon. This post may contain a few spoilers, so be warned.

The film starts with eleven year-old Joe, watching a television show called Space Commander and playing with a spaceship, which may not seem all that different, but this circulates from stories his father tells him they are originally from a planet called Zalaxon and the last survivors of a mass-genocide operated by a ruthless leader by the name of Xalador.

On his death bed, his father Matius tells him the story he has been telling him is true. Fast forward around ten years, where we see Joe Norman (Rafe Spall) breaking into the observatory, to try and spot the beacon from Zalaxon, but unsuccessful, Joe returns home to try and apprehend what he thinks to be a burglar with a toy gun.

Joe viewing a home video later that evening, talks to his father through (what can be presumed to be alien technology) a hologram. He questions the possibility of contingency with the human race, or a suitable mate in English. This is, of course, where he meets Maria (Jenn Murray), a woman looking to sell some of her childhood toys to pay for rent.

Being ‘compatible’ mates, Joe takes the next few scenes trying to court Maria, and being successful they eventually move into Maria’s flat. Inevitably, Maria questions their relationship, as to whether their feelings are the same, when Joe decides to tell Maria the truth, that he is in fact an alien. Of course, this does not go the way Joe planned as Maria believes Joe to be crazy, especially when he cries out for Maria to see the hologram from the film reel.

Maria, flabbergasted at Joe’s announcement, tricks him into seeing a psychologist as she believes he is completely delusional. After some digging, Maria and Joe decide to visit Vera Ellis, who the film reel is addressed too, where she says there’s a chest of Joe’s father’s things in the garage. This is where he discovers a form of medication called Zalaxon, this causes Joe to spiral out of control, with a near suicide attempt. The film gets all very sad, and depressing, as Joe, has come to terms with reality, which is all disheartening.

earthbound4

However, plot twist. Joe is really an alien! And everyone during the film has been working undercover and biding their time to capture Joe. I won’t spoil who is behind it all and what not, but Joe, finding out he has been tricked all this time has a new found confidence and must use his toy ray gun (that really works) to evade capture and save himself and Maria.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, admittedly it’s not the greatest sci-fi film I’ve scene, but for a film released by the Irish Film Institute, it’s enjoyable. It doesn’t have a huge run time, the story may be expected, but executed finely. The comedy part of this genre is mainly found in the first part of this film, as Joe courts, and has a lot of awkward conversations with Maria, whereas the latter half is more the science-fiction part, especially with the ‘alien’ technology and the Spire being the spaceship in Dublin.

3.5/5

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Author: Nathan Harris

Currently studying Film & Television studies and Media Writing at Derby University. Hopefully wanting to become a film critic/journalist.

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