January 25, 2014

Sci Fi Invasion: The Brother from Another Planet

Oh, you sneaky box set, you. It is a set that has so much filler in it that you wonder if having fifty movies was worth the ten bucks I spent. Movie after movie of wasted time. Bad directing, effects, stories, acting, so much boredom created, and so many sleepless nights instantly cured. It is no wonder that I begin to think it is nothing but filler. Fortunately there is the occasional ray of light. I have finally stumbled across one of those special moments that makes all the junk worth wading through. Now, it could just be that it is good only in comparison to what immediately preceded, but I suspect not.

The movie is called The Brother from Another Planet and it was released way back in 1984. It was written and directed by John Sayles. Sayles had previously worked on movies like Piranha, Alligator, Battle Beyond the Stars, and The Howling, he would go on to films such as Eight Men Out, Lone Star, and The Spiderwick Chronicles.

This movie has what is ostensibly a rather silly name. It is a movie I have been aware of for awhile but never really felt the drive to watch it. I guess I should be happy that it appeared on this set as it really is a good movie. It is not what I was expecting. I think I was expecting something sillier, something that would be more typical of the blaxploitation genre. Yes, it still probably falls under the heading of blaxoploitation, but while it is lighthearted, it is far from silly. It is an effective movie featuring a great central performance and is as entertaining as it is interesting.

Joe Morton (Terminator 2, Speed, Eureka) plays the title character, an alien who crashes on Earth and finds himself stranded in Manhattan. Outwardly, he looks like a black man, save for his odd, three-toed feet. On top of that, he happens to be mute. The first chunk of the film follows him as he explores his new surroundings. He is a very empathetic character whose normal expression seems to be one of bemusement and wonder. This is one of the great things about this film. It never falls into cynicism or nastiness, it puts everything on the shoulders of a mute, wide eyed alien. It makes the movie feel like something from the early days of cinema when there was still a lot of wonder to be found.

We follow the Brother, he is never named but is referred to by most as brother, as he explores his surroundings. Because he is mute, others cannot quite figure him out and ascribe their ideas of who he is, what he should feel, and how he should be to him, he goes along with it. Later in the film he is pursued by a pair of bounty hunters who have been looking for him for some unknown reason.

The Brother from Another Planet is sweet, entertaining and definitely puts its weight on Joe Morton's shoulders. He is more than up to the challenge, delivering a wonderfully engaging performance without ever saying a word. The movie looks to capture and examine the immigrant experience, or so I have read. This seems pretty accurate, especially with the hunters pretending to be Immigration agents.

I am not sure I can completely identify with the tale, but watching this I feel I can, or at least have a better understanding of trying to assimilate and be comfortable in new, strange surrounding. For this reason, The Brother from Another Planet is a movie that really deserves to be seen. It is a very good film that is serves multiple purposes and invites multiple viewings. Definitely check this out. Also, be on the lookout for a young Fisher Stevens showing out mute alien a card trick.

Highly Recommended.

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Dell said...

Saw this when I was a kid, but not since. The sad part is I purchased the DVD several years ago and just haven't gotten around to it. This is definitely shooting up my "to watch" list. Thanks for the reminder!

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