Ritânâ [Returner] (2002)

(On DVD, July 2005) Feeling a lot like a mix between The Terminator and E.T., this science-fiction film is not without a good moment or two, but you may be better off watching the trailer rather than the film. The standard “rescue the stranded alien” with the “time-traveller tries to prevent something terrible from happening” shticks aren’t terribly innovative, and the limp execution doesn’t do much to help. The leads are pop-star bland, with only antagonist Goro Kishitani worth noticing. At least the direction offers a number of unusual moments, though those tend to be clustered around the action sequences. Some of the CGI work is interesting, but the trailer will act as a showcase reel far more effectively than the film. The film certainly never knows when to quit, with a third act that stretches away to infinity and beyond. (Fully ten of the last fifteen minutes are completely unnecessary.) The techno soundtrack can’t do much to save the film. Watchable but in no way remarkable. The DVD contains some mildly interesting making-of footage.

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