31 January 2002 | bob the moo
An interesting, if workman-like sci-fi
At an army reunion, Jesse Marcel still finds he is treated with derision by his colleagues for claims he made years ago when serving in Roswell, New Mexico. Marcel finds the reunion provides him with more information and a fresh perspective on what happened. In flashbacks he remembers his original discovery of a suspected crash site with unearthly metals, his report and the following coverup. However as more witnesses confide in him how much can he believe is true, a problem that becomes even more pronounced with the input of the mysterious Townsend.
This tv movie is actually quite good. The story is told in flashback and allows us to hear witnesses put in their accounts rather than just see events unfold as fact. This allows the story to be less of a story about what happening at Roswell, but instead to be an account of what may have happened - pieced together over the film. The end result is that the picture painted is quite reasonable and is a bit more believable because we get it bit by bit, accounts adding to other accounts making the whole thing more believable. The only downside of this is that the film doesn't manage to come down on either side of the arguement and doesn't take a stance on what it thinks happens (although this may be a good thing).
The story moves along slowly, trying to remain credible despite the nature of the material,, but eventually it ruins this slow building in one key scene. The final scene between Marcel and Townsend is really enjoyable and moves really fast. Like Marcel we're not sure if Townsend is telling the truth or if he's misleading Marcel and us - in this respect it's still good. However this scene takes away a lot of the credibility that it has built up - Townsend begins to reveal all sorts of stories including tales of aliens messing with human DNA to shape evolution etc, and it really makes you doubt the whole thing. However, despite this it's still a very interesting story.
MacLachlan is good here as the man who knows what he saw but can't explain it, but his makeup for his "old-age" character is quite poor. Sheen may only have a small role but he does manage to have a great screen presence. The rest of the cast is really well filled out by well known faces such as Gunton, Xander Berkeley, Peter MacNicol and Charles Martin Smith.
Overall this is an interesting film that almost manages to move gradually enough to keep cynics on board while still satisfying the X-files crowd. The ending is a little sudden and requires a great leap of faith to accept Sheen's suggestions - but then maybe that's the point. Good.