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May 6, 2013 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Film Review – Eternity

Science fiction has always had a special place in my heart. Through the manipulation of reality, filmmakers can explore both the medium’s ability to craft a unique sense of place, and the depths of the human experience. From that point of view, while Alex Galvin’s new sci-fi feature Eternity proves to be a technical success, it falters on an emotional level due to some irritating performances and underwritten characters.

Despite some sci-fi dressings, the story is at its core a classic murder mystery, albeit one where the stakes are significantly higher. Through a new technology known as Transference, prospective detectives are able to tackle actual homicide cases played out entirely within a computer program. However, it soon becomes clear that something or someone is working against them, and one Richard Manning must strive to find the answers. There is nothing especially innovative about this tale, but the premise is nonetheless intriguing and watchable. Unfortunately, the resolution is slightly underwhelming and the broader questions are handled in a rather perfunctory manner.

Where Eternity excels is in its crafting of a particularly evocative atmosphere. Galvin makes excellent use of Wellington’s landscape and environs, making them seem empty and lifeless as part of a ‘game world’. The score is particularly fantastic: eerie and mysterious, if a little overbearing at times. These all add up to an excellently woven sense of unease; there’s something amiss here but it’s hidden just beneath the surface.

However, the human aspect of the film is never really convincing due to some exceedingly wooden acting. Apart from Ralph Johnson as the inbuilt aid ‘Sherlock’, none of the main cast manage to breathe any life or personality into their characters. Elliot Travers fares particularly poorly as the protagonist Richard Manning, constantly furrowing his brow and banging his fists in place of genuine acting. None of the supposedly poignant moments have any impact simply because the actors cannot convey the requisite emotions. The onus of this can’t be placed squarely on the actors, however. An underwritten script, which only lightly sketches its characters, must also take its share of the blame. As a result, Eternity often feels more like a mechanical exercise, as opposed to a human tale.

Even so, Eternity manages to entertain thanks to its impeccable aesthetic and solid, if unremarkable, story. However, it still ends up feeling like a teaser; a taste of what this clearly talented director could do next with a more accomplished cast and better script.

Verdict: 3/5

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