Production filmed at the left over barn from the Kent farm set built for the production of Superman Returns (2006) in Breeza, New South Wales, Australia. See more »
Strong ideas and these carry most of it, but it lacks development and subtlety in the final product
A man returns to his childhood home – an isolated farm in the Midwest of America; armed with a shovel he calls the police and heads out into the fields. Meanwhile, in flashback, we see him as a boy living with his father, remote from everything but yet in the shadow of the Cold War.
The Landing is a flawed short film but one that still works with forgiveness. The plot is cleverly phrased as a science-fiction but it is a more human story of guilt and frustration in there too. As with many sci-fi films of the period, the 1950's part of the film sees aliens and the communist menace rolled up into one thing. This is pretty clear from the outset and it works it the way that one expects for the most part – although it takes it to an unexpected place that brings the film to a reasonably satisfying conclusion in terms of the narrative. I say this in this manner because while the story closes out well, the characters and other aspects do not.
The cause of this and the film's main weakness is that it pushes things too much. So although there is a certain amount of tension of the unknown, we do get the music really pushing the familiar genre standards in a heavy way. This is added to by the main character (the father) being far too one-note in his scripting and delivery; in terms of context there are reasons and background, but they are poured out to easily and quickly, losing the feeling of a person and letting the film only be about events. To a point this still works, but it does leave the human aspect of the film to be much weaker – which is a problem as this becomes more important.
Ironically, while these aspects could have been better, the film has done a great job of recreating the era. Using an old barn and some basic 1950's house sets (a porch, a kitchen etc), the film does feel like it was set in the Midwest of America and not the Australia where it was actually filmed. The costumes and general look of the film add to this, while visual effects are pretty well used as it appears these have painted in parts of background to give it more of a feel of place and time. The acting doesn't quite match that – Nixon's father isn't all he needed to be, while Usher is more functional than performance driven. In the modern sections Roberts delivers but the film is not where it needed to be to support his emotional delivery.
It still has much to recommend about it, but The Landing does lack subtlety and shading in the development of character and events. Fundamentally the ideas the strong and engaging, and these do carry it much of the way, but it is just the areas that it falls short that leave the film doing the same overall.
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