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I love to debate with those who claimed this was a rip-off of E.T... While
E.T. was good, it was obviously more cute with cute kids and a cute alien.
Wavelength is much more adult. I didn't see this as the same film as E.T.
at all, if anything, I found John Carpenter's film Starman a replica of
Wavelength--it came two years after Wavelength and had the EXACT same silver
sphere spaceship hovering in the desert!!
The story of someone discovering aliens in a secret underground government complex may not be new, but it's how the story is told and how the characters affect us that make it work. Robert Carradine is likeable and even sings a few of his own songs. Would have been nice to add those to the soundtrack CD, but I can't complain about having this great Tangerine Dream score (particularly the Church Theme). Former Runaways band member Cherie Currie was a nice surprise in the cast--it's a shame someone felt it necessary to exploit her by having her in a brief nude scene. It's so cliche to have a naked woman get out of bed and never the man...it's as if to say, yeah, we can pull in the male audience by giving them a naked woman to gawk at. Since this was from New World Pictures, I had to check to make sure Roger Corman wasn't listed as producer since his name (like John Landis) automatically means breasts are mandatory. Keenan Wynn adds sass as usual to any film he's in, and doesn't disappoint.
The real stars are the aliens. It's wonderful to see how much can be conveyed without dialogue! One particular moment of brilliance (and a nice comment on religious ideology) is when they are whisked into a church to hide and Carradine and Currie try to get the aliens to put clothes on to disguise them as children. At first the aliens won't cooperate, but when they look up at a statue of Jesus on the cross (and seeing the despair on Jesus' face), they quickly start to grab for the clothes! That scene deserves to be listed as one of the all-time best scenes in film. It's important to note too that the minimalist makeup job for the aliens is very good, I didn't notice any seams or wrinkles on the skin. They seemed naked, but who's to say what beings from other worlds wear?
Nice pacing, believable performances, great Tangerine Dream score, and good use of location (yes, using the desert is economical, but the final sequence is a wow), and the emphasis on the drama of the situation instead of bombastic sci-fi visuals make Wavelength a worthwhile time. I've seen and forgotten many films in my life, and when a film like this is one you think about once in a while, then it did its job well.
I only hope that someday it's re-issued on DVD and given the chance to be re-discovered and acknowledged!
After viewing this film for the first time (and with an open mind), I feel
the need to defend it against the general naysayers who condemn it, claiming
that it is nothing but a rip-off. Unfortunately, this film has just about
been buried by several bad reviews, and the fact that "E.T." was released
just prior to this film, didn't help it, either.
The fact is, it's nearly 20 years down the line, and people are still comparing it to "E.T.". I certainly don't feel that this is a rip-off of "E.T.", nor do I feel that it bears much resemblance. It may be true that this film was made with the intent to cash in on the alien/science-fiction trend of that period, but then again, when doesn't that happen in Hollywood? If we are going to compare films about extra-terrestrials, then this one ranks more closely to Steven Spielberg's earlier accomplishment, "CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND".
Overall, I enjoyed this film. Robert Carradine and Cherrie Currie (of The Runaways fame) turn in some solid performances, which rise above most films of this caliber. Keenan Wynn, reprising his usual stubborn old man role, is always worth watching. Tangerine Dream provides the music for the film, and as usual, their score is especially effective, and works best in the most critical areas.
One has to appreciate the intelligence that the film has, which clearly indicates that this was not just another "hatchet-job" rushed effort, that some would suspect.
The end result is, by no means, tremendous. But, this film is extremely underrated, and is at the very least, worthwhile entertainment.
If you get a chance, give it a shot.
I saw the trailer for this film on an old VHS I was watching, and was
intrigued enough to purchase it on eBay. All I can say is it was worth every
cent. A marvellous little "unknown", with strong performances from the whole
cast and great chemistry between them. The storyline is solid and unique,
and is nowhere near a rip-off of earlier films. Of course, the music was
another bonus, particularly the quick, sharp cues we get during the most
A lot of tension is evident throughout the film, building up as we go along to a most memorable conclusion. The shots of the spaceship in the desert with the stunned Air Force pilots were great! There seems to have been a great deal of effort put into pacing too, and the film flows along very smoothly. Just an excellent movie and very highly recommended!
You can count on one hand the number of "aliens on earth" movies that are well made since the 1980's. "Wavelength", with a plot containing a few elements of several other sci-fi movies, pulls off an intriguing look into why we seem to have no knowledge of alien contact--only our ever increasing suspicions. The short length is perfect, as you care about the characters but don't have to wade through more-than-enough exposition to reach the thrilling denouement. However, if you go in expecting a big-bucks budget and effects you will not get your fill. Instead, enjoy the cast who carry off the narrative through good chemistry and solid, non-flashy acting. The director/screenwriter has given them a sci-fi film with plenty to work with, including an eye-popping finale. As other reviewers have previously noted, the Tangerine Dream filmscore is excellent, too. It is a shame that this little gem isn't available in a widescreen DVD format yet. Catch it some other way when you can.
Those of us lucky enough to catch it on late-night HBO when it first came out were strangely touched by it (especially those of us not so jaded as to be put off by the low-budget production or b-movie feel).
The screen presence of Robert Carradine and Cherie Currie...the steady flow of understated and beautifully filmed scenes...the mesmerizing music of Tangerine Dream at their best.
This film is a synergy of several elements that came together to create a rare kind of sci-fi film magic. It has a meditative feel that is sadly absent from most films today, and while it may not have mega-buck mass appeal, it is well worth tuning into Wavelength.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This one is a real sleeper. The acting is great, the characterization is well played , You really feel that you are in the middle of this one. Special effects are at a minimum, this movie relies on the power of your imagination and the use of your brain. Definitely NOT for an escapist movie fan. My only complaint comes at the end of the movie when the aliens "space ship" comes to get them. I've seen this footage before in at least one, possible two or more other movies. Despite the stock footage, this is a Sci-Fi movie for the real Sci-Fi fan. As a plus there is Keenan Wynn playing a grumpy old man forgotten by most, but relied on by the two main characters.
I originally came to this movie with no expectations and it stayed in my top 10 list for a long time, still remaining as an all-time favorite. I liked meeting and getting to know the characters before their lives were impacted by the main events of the story. I found the three main characters (played by Robert Carradine, Cherie Currie, and Keenan Wynn) very believable and engaging. I particularly enjoyed the Native American interchanges and the words of wisdom from the travellers. I don't know what movie the other reviewer watched (or did he leave too early or fall asleep?) - because when ET phones home there is definitely an answer!
Substituted for expensive, spine-tingling special-effects, are an engaging story and credible performances, particularly from Cherie Currie. If you like seeing what a capable independent filmmaker can do with a limited budget - I recommend this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Burnt-out, reclusive folk singer Bobby Sinclair (an excellent performance by the always fine Robert Carradine) and kindly psychic Iris Longacre (nicely played by the fetching Cherie Currie of the Runaways) free a trio of bald, mute, diminutive extraterrestrials -- Gamma (Dov Young), Beta (Joshua Oreck) and Delta (Christian Morris) -- from a top secret army base run by cold-hearted military jerks and help the little guys get back to their home planet. Deftly directed by Mike Gray (who also wrote the intelligent script and previously penned the outstanding screenplay for "The China Syndrome"), with terrifically vivid and engaging performances from the two exceptional leads, unusually well-drawn characters, plenty of touching heart and warmth, and a neat synthesizer score by Tangerine Dream, "Wavelength" makes the grade as a shamefully underrated and overlooked low-budget sci-fi gem. Keenan Wynn contributes a marvelously cantankerous turn as crusty old prospector Dan, plus there are nifty bits by Robert ("Parasite") Glaudini as coolly pragmatic scientist Dr. Wolf and Bobby ("The Supernaturals") Di Cicco as Bobby's good friend Marvin Horn. Pleasant, quirky and simply lovely (the scenes with Bobby and Iris helping out the aliens are very moving and endearing, with the sequence where everyone chills out around a campfire qualifying as the definite delightful highlight), this unsung sleeper deserves to be better known and more widely seen.
Robert Carradine is a hack L.A. musician who lives near an abandoned Air Force Base, Cherie Currie is his semi-psychic girlfriend who hears a strange, high-pitched sound coming from within. That's the set-up for a slow yet engrossing science-fiction story which is by turns credible and yet too mechanical. The middle portion of the film sags with the weight of far too much technical jargon and yammering from government yahoos. Once things get back to Carradine and Currie, the movie recovers for an emotional conclusion. This is the best role Currie's had since 1980's "Foxes" and Carradine is an easy, giving actor who never mugs or hams. Keenan Wynn is also good in support, and the desert locales for the ending are well-captured. A minor offering from New World Pictures, though a highly competent one. **1/2 from ****
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