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‘Risen’ review: Alien invasion film lacks focus but shows promise

An unexpected twist may save things.

Risen is a disaster movie on an intergalactic scale. A meteor strikes a small town in New York leaving the air toxic. As people begin dying, an astrobiologist named Lauren (Nicole Schalmo) is called in. She soon learns that the meteorite is much more than it initially seemed. This is more than just space debris crashing into the planet. There is something much more powerful at work.

This is one of those films where the actual premise can be glossed over. The “space rock turning deadly invader” subgenre has been a favorite for decades. One of the main reasons for this is that the story can be simple and still fun. Everything can be explained in a couple of sentences while conveying the danger and excitement of what is happening. In the case of Risen, it does the reverse.

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The plot keeps almost everything as easy as can be. Quickly finding solutions to major problems is fine for a thirty minute television show; it does not work as well in a movie that runs almost two hours. Moments like this make the film seem lazy. Even worse is when Lauren decides to not inform others of key discoveries she has made. It is as if, Risen packed so much in, it is forced to skimp on major details.

The strange flip side is that Risen has long bits of exposition. This is partially due to necessity. A mistake similar films have made is they tend to barely explain anything. Writer-director Eddie Arya decides to have multiple conversations to explain the plot. It is fine at first, but starts to wear then the longer things go. What ends up happening is the never good mix of over and under explaining.

Things start to pick up towards the end. The story becomes more focused leading to a nice twist. It is clear with a tighter story and shorter run time, this would have been a pretty good science fiction movie. It is in these moments that Risen shows the it’s true promise. The question becomes, is it too late?

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