Visual effects reign supreme in this loud alien arrival sci-fi directed by Fedor Bondarchuk (Stalingrad), which is thickly laden with romance. Attraction revolves around the life of Julia (played by Irina Starshenbaum), student and daughter of the stoical colonel Valentin Lebedev (portrayed by the excellent Oleg Menshikov), as her life is thrown into chaos and confusion after a spacecraft crash-lands in Moscow.
Bondarchuk shows zeal in attempting to balance the subplots and overlapping storylines, and at its best this film offers the viewer a melange of varying genres while ticking all of contemporary cinema’s sci-fi musts.
One could, however, partition the movie into three distinct chapters that struggle to tie together and form some semblance of rhythm. First there is the aliens’ crash; these scenes capture the hyperbolic tendencies of blockbusters, with explosive CGI and full-throttle action, establishing plot points at breakneck speed. It’s done well and whets the appetite for more action.
Secondly, a human vs invaders aspect is inserted to ostensibly inject some high-octane tension, but also to submit a not-so-oblique message on tolerance and understanding in this world. Although many reviewers have likened Attraction to a Russian ersatz of Independence Day, the early scenes, particularly the segregation of the aliens, are far more relatable to District 9.
The final pillar Attraction is built upon is the elaborate love story (foreshadowed by the title), which becomes the ultimate focus of the movie. Frankly, the romantic aspect of the film feels botched, and to interweave such a convoluted love interest plot with an alien crash-landing is ambitious and ultimately ill-considered, as it takes screen time and further detail away from the other elements of the feature.
The star of the movie may prove to be the special effects, which dazzle on a minuscule budget compared to the vast majority of sci-fi blockbusters. The Chernobyl-esque landscape of urban Moscow in ruin is an incredible sight and sets fertile ground for sci-fi adventure, though the characters’ exploits fail to do it service.
Attraction is released nationwide and in selected IMAX cinemas on 19th January 2018.
Watch the trailer for Attraction here: