In a remote space observatory perched high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a needle frantically scratches erratic lines on a strip chart recorder confirming an extraterrestrial signal. ...
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In a remote space observatory perched high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a needle frantically scratches erratic lines on a strip chart recorder confirming an extraterrestrial signal. Emmett Shaw, the powerful, charismatic billionaire who owns the observatory, rushes to the station, hungry to expose the discovery. This is the biggest moment in human history and he is the man responsible for it all. With the goal of immediately sharing the signal with the entire world, he brings along two leading journalists - Kara Walsh, an extremely attractive, top-notch investigative reporter who begrudgingly owes her career to Shaw, and Reverend Fletcher, a new age visionary with the hottest radio show in the country. Also accompanying Shaw is Jack Jones, a scruffy but brilliant computer technician whose pessimistic and often sarcastic attitude ruffles many feathers in the group - especially Smitty's, the program director, who happens to be Jack's ex-girlfriend and the only Christian in the group.... Written by
It's a shame this film couldn't maintain the edgy intrigue of its first twenty minutes or so. Instead, it unravels to the point where the title might refer to the viewer who was expecting some kind of payoff for investing their time in watching it.
The idea of the signal and the question of its origin is a sturdy enough hook to hang a plot upon. The story is not the problem, but the means that are employed to tell it certainly are. The first sign of trouble is when the military shows up at the observatory. Naturally a storm soon follows - is there some rule in Hollywood that people must always be trapped in remote locations by thunderstorms? Once the debate about the signal starts...it goes on..and on, for almost the entire movie. For folks who are stuck in a tense situation far from anywhere and who don't trust each other, the characters act remarkably calm and there is far too much talking and too little action. One of the biggest mysteries is why for such an important character - she's the only one with overt psychic ability - the part of Vasquez is so woefully underwritten. It seems that she has only two lines in the whole movie - a total waste of a very fine, sultry performance by Ramona Milano.
Gossett Jnr is passable as the army honcho - it's not like he hasn't had previous experience in such a role - but the only other solid acting comes from Judd Nelson, who gives a workmanlike performance as Jack (not Jake!) Jones. He valiantly tries to carry the film for its duration, but the tepid script sinks his efforts. It doesn't help that Michelle Nolden's performance as the devout love interest fails on practically every level. Most of the other leads fall into stereotype - feisty female reporter - or caricature - the preacher who likes his food.
Basically, this film is such a disappointment that you might be well advised to send a signal of your own to the TV set - and watch something else!
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