Story-wise UFO would’ve made more for a better short film than a full film – the “action” starts off way too quickly and not a lot really seems to happen to justify the one and a half hour length, however take the premise and the interesting bits that do happen, condense it to 30 mins and you have yourself a good watch. The premise is quite interesting, taking a more realistic approach and focusing on how we would react if aliens made contact with us first rather than the other way around and how we would respond. It shows this process of ‘contact’ through the primary character, Derek, and the universal language of maths. Derek’s investigation and attempt at decrypting the alien message adds to the thriller side of things, although the film sometimes indulges itself too much in explanations of maths and formulas, which comes off boring rather than exciting. This investigation also starts way too quickly, the audience isn’t given a chance to even know the characters names before things kick off – I
know people complain about things taking too long to happen, but the opposite isn’t any better in some cases.
In terms of the characters, UFO focuses largely on Derek and his investigation. This is fine as obviously this is the main hook of the movie; however the side characters aren’t given any space to breathe and so just come off rather pointless. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t hate any of these characters, but you just don’t really feel anything for them either. A chief example of this is the maths professor, played by Gillian Anderson no less! What could’ve been an exciting character that goes beyond a cameo unfortunately comes off flat and meaningless. It’s a shame as these side characters would’ve opened the film up to a few more layers that could’ve lifted
the film just that bit higher.
However, UFO still manages to capture you by the end. In spite of its faults it has a charm that still leaves you in good spirits by the end – even if you don’t like the film you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time. When it isn’t overly explaining maths the investigation gets quite exciting, Derek’s best friend (albeit redundant) adds a bit of much needed humour, technically the film is fine (not great but nothing to complain about). It does have pros that succeed in making the film still enjoyable to watch.
All in all, UFO is a film you will either love or hate – for me, I wasn’t so keen and yet, looking back on it, I do have a certain appreciation for it. Despite its flaws the film is still able to get you on board by the end, leaving you thinking ‘Did I like that or not?’ But alas, there are better, similar sci-fi films out there which I would urge you to try first.