Adapted by John Mantley
from his own novel, The 27th Day
is an ideas-driven sci-fi thriller conceived and executed by idiots. What's interesting is how close its plot comes to the genuinely intelligent Arrival. One could imagine Arrival being back-engineered by taking The 27th Day
and reversing all its stupidities.Things start off with promise: five disparate stereotypes (American newspaperman, English girl in swimsuit, Chinese woman, German scientist, Russian soldier) are snatched from their lives by a UFO. But already there are problems apparent: the movie doesn't give any of these characters a compelling narrative to be interrupted by the main plot, except the Chinese woman, whose narrative is ending, as we'll see. In the novel, perhaps access to the characters' thoughts would have enlivened them, and this may be one reason authors don't usually get invited to adapt their books: faithfully reproducing the incidents onscreen doesn't necessarily give you the same effect.