Greetings sci-fi aficionados! If you are still feeling overwhelmed by the hordes of brain-starved undead this Halloween, we’ve got just the remedy – aliens! Our friends over at Loose Canon Films were kind enough to send us an advance copy of director Andy Collier‘s The Seventeenth Kind, which we here at AP2HYC greatly appreciate. Keep your eyes peeled for our interview with Andy Collier, and then mosey on over to the film’s official website, where you can purchase your very own copy for maximum home viewing pleasure! But first, we are very pleased to bring you this spoiler-free review of The Seventeenth Kind! Let’s get started.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Seventeenth Kind, it is an adaptation of writer Michael Marshall Smith‘s science fiction story of the same name in which shopping network personality James “Jimmy” Richard unwittingly becomes the central figure of an extraterrestrial society’s contact with the human race, and it all happens live on television! Blending elements of science fiction and comedy, The Seventeenth Kind is a highly entertaining experience with excellent performances, direction and cinematography, and a hilarious song parody of “The Eye of the Tiger” complete with an accompanying montage! While the film is faithful to the original story, Collier brings his own unique vision to the table that gives the film the right amount of flair to be enjoyed in glorious live action.
The cast of The Seventeenth Kind do an excellent job of creating a believable, if parodic behind-the-scenes portal into the production of a television home shopping program. Model Lucy Pinder plays Melissa, the voluptuous and mostly vapid “Shop-O-Vision” host that uses her…assets to win a bid for Jimmy’s coveted time slot on the network. Pinder mostly mirrors some of the mannerisms and facial expressions of her character’s “real life” television counterparts, which is interesting in its own right as it forces us to question the sexualized nature of certain female TV personalities. While Pinder has literally only one line throughout the entire film, it is perfectly delivered and timed to great effect, so keep an eye out for that. Miriam Margolyes is Mrs. Mark, a dedicated viewer and buyer of all things Shop-O-Vision, who can been seen reacting to the events as they unfold from the isolated safety of her dark, unglamorous, and somewhat depressing living room. Margolyes has very few lines in the film outside of one stand out scene, but offers a fun performance that serves as a window into the unreality of television while lampooning the stereotypical image of the gullible couch potato, complete with an unwieldy and multi-functioning remote control.
Some of you will recognize Sylvester McCoy from The Hobbit trilogy of films, Doctor Who, or any number of other works, who conjures up a brilliant performance as the inept and completely unnatural Rusty, Shop-O-Vision’s on air product tester who appears to be hiding something. Last and certainly not least is Tony Curran, who takes the lead as Jimmy Richard in the film’s stand out performance. Curran has had an impressive and varied career thus far, ranging from popular television shows like Doctor Who and Sons of Anarchy to big budget films such as Gladiator. Curran portrays Jimmy Richard to perfection in a nuanced performance that highlights the “cheesiness” of television personalities while also offering moments of glaring earnestness and honesty about himself and his circumstances. The down-on-his-luck and drug addled Jimmy Richard once had dreams of stardom, but now he is the best at what he does: selling products on television. Richard’s ability to push mediocre and uninventive products upon his viewers might just be what it takes to save humanity…or himself, at least. The entire opening monologue is fantastically delivered by Curran, who has a “man in the mirror” moment as Richard, albeit while looking at his reflection in a cutlery set. This scene in particular captures the essence of Jimmy Richard, and demands multiple viewings; it’s that good.
Clocking in at just under a half an hour and taking place almost entirely inside of a television studio, The Seventeenth Kind posed a challenge to Collier to create a dynamic viewing experience. Considering the outcome, he did not disappoint. Collier’s ability to direct actors really shines, and all the performances are indicative of an excellent director-to-talent working relationship. The Seventeenth Kind is paced incredibly well; no shot overstays its welcome while the film simultaneously manages to avoid the overly frenetic and jumpy style so many modern films suffer from, thanks to editor Alice Petit. Also worth mentioning is that the film just looks great. The first thing I noticed was how polished everything was, owing to the work of cinematographer Lorenzo Levrini. The entire cast and crew really came together on The Seventeenth Kind, and the finished product just proves it. There truly isn’t enough I can say in the film’s praise; I enjoyed it that much.
Andy Collier has said that he would like to do a follow up series to The Seventeenth Kind, which is something that I would be highly interested in seeing, especially if Tony Curran came back to reprise his role as Jimmy Richard. Trust me when I say that by the time you are finished watching the film, you’re going to be wanting to see a lot more of him. Either way, The Seventeenth Kind is more than enough to keep me entertained for a while, and I can easily recommend it to fans of science fiction, comedy, or both! So do yourself a favor and check it out; you won’t be disappointed.