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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Arrival of Wang


Starring: Ennio Fantastichini and Francesca Cuttica
Saffron Hill Films
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 12 November 2012

Chinese-language interpreter Gaia has had some odd assignments, but nothing prepares her for being blindfolded and taken to a secret facility. On her arrival she is asked to interpret for Mr Wang, although she cannot see him as his features are lost in shadow. She immediately finds inspector Curti’s treatment of Wang to be brutal and dehumanising, which brings them into conflict. When she finally demands to see Mr Wang, the inspector reluctantly agrees, warning her that she may not like the experience. When the lights are finally turned up Gaia realises that Wang is an alien...

The Arrival of Wang (2011 - 1 hr, 22 min, 16 sec) is an Italian science fiction film written and directed by Antonio Manetti and Marco Manetti. For an English speaking audience the title of the film, and the main character, are, shall we say, unfortunate. The film's acting is, however, powerful and compelling so that you don’t really find yourself side-tracked by Wang.

The plot is a combination of spy thriller and alien invasion. When Wang is picked up by the authorities he is, with the help of Gaia, interrogated by Curti. Curti is direct in his approach, wanting to know exactly why the alien came to earth. Wang pleads that he only arrived for a cultural exchange; to foster better relations between the humans and his own people. The vocal acting of Li Yong is such that both Gaia and the audience believe Wang.

Curti comes over as a brutal monster, even torturing Wang when he is not happy with his answers, but Wang keeps repeating that he only arrived for peaceful reasons. Ennio Fantastichini (Curti) makes such a convincingly unreasonable monster that, like Gaia, the audience barely registers the inconsistencies in Wang's story. At points you waver between believing Wang and disbelieving him, but the brutality of his interrogation keeps dragging you back to Curti as the real monster. As things start to get out of hand Gaia determines to save Wang and to prove to him that not all humans are like Curti.

It's hard to say if this was a budget film, it certainly would have benefitted from a larger budget for the ending sequence, which looks a bit tacky. Wang works well, for the most part, and is on screen for long enough for you to partially forget that it’s a CGI character; at least it’s not Jar Jar.

Francesca Cuttica (Gaia) plays her character's journey through upset, desperation, disgust and final rebellion convincingly, so much so that most of the sympathy within the film stays with Gaia and Wang.

The main meat of the film, the three way exchanges between Gaia, Curti and Wang, are the strongest parts of the movie, but the special effects, Wang notwithstanding, have the overall effect of dragging the film down into the realms of a superior episode of The Twilight Zone, a show with which the story has a great affinity.

The audio track is Italian, either Dolby 5.1 Surround or Dolby 1.0 Mono, with optional English subtitles. The disc contains four extras and some trailers. The first extra has actress Francesca Cuttica, and directors Antonio Manetti and Marco Manetti being interviewed at Frightfest (9 min, 37 sec) where they talk in a very positive way about the film. Backstage (18 min, 19 sec) takes a look at the making of the film, with contributions from the entire main players. Here you can also see Li Yong doing his green screen work, which would be eventually replaced with the CGI’d Wang.

Mr Wang (2 min, 34 sec) has the CGI character introducing himself, with a look at how the character was created. Lastly, we have Barry Wang (1 min, 13 sec) with the CGI Wang singing alone to Barry White, which is amusing.

So, it is a film which has very good scripting and acting but which is ultimately let down by too small a special effect budget.


Charles Packer

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