Monday
Aug062012

A Very New World Year: MAKING CONTACT (U.S. Cut) (1985)

For the first review as part of my New World Pictures tribute, I decided to take a look at the U.S. cut of a German fantasy film. Originally entitled Joey, this movie was brought to the U.S., trimmed of 19 minutes of footage, dubbed, re-titled to Making Contact, and released by New World. Have the Germans done well with this movie, or is it a colossal failure?

Making Contact (1985) Review

Joey (Joshua Morrell)’s father has just died, and, as one would imagine, he’s very distraught. Luckily, he soon discovers that he can talk to his father (or is it?) on a toy telephone and he now has the ability to move things with his mind. The neighborhood kids all make fun of him because of the stories he tells about talking to his dead father and things get even worse when Joey finds an old ventriloquist dummy in a dilapidated house nearby. It turns out the dummy has the same powers as Joey, and warns him that the person on the telephone is not his father. Is the dummy telling the truth, or is the wooden plaything secretly out to destroy Joey?

Making Contact had all the elements to be a really fantastic movie: outstanding score, beautiful cinematography, and a good story. Unfortunately, it trips over its own feet several times during its runtime before eventually falling flat on its face. Really, the main problem Making Contact has is its convoluted story that feels like a mishmash of Poltergeist, The Goonies, and many other films. Many plot points are left unexplained, and nearly nothing makes a lick of sense. Perhaps the cut 19 minutes cleared up several things, but as far as the U.S. cut goes, I think something got lost in translation.

This was made by the same person who directed such summer blockbusters as Independence Day, 2012, Anonymous, and more, and it shows. Aesthetically, Making Contact may be the best movie in New World’s catalogue. The orchestral score was beautiful, did a great job of setting the mood, and was VERY reminiscent of the music in most Spielberg movies. Considering this was one of the director’s earlier movies, the camerawork on display is absolutely stunning, and when coupled with the score, I wouldn’t be surprised if Spielberg actually did direct this.

The acting was good all around, but the dubbing was HORRIBLE. It’s not like the words don’t match up with the actors’ mouths; it’s just that all the voice actors they got to dub the characters are almost always completely devoid of any emotion. When I first saw this, I had no idea it was dubbed and I just thought all the performers were crappy, but no. The dummy was fairly creepy (even though it had a monocle; monocles = not scary), and there are some cool monster effects towards the end of the movie. However, to a child (the film’s target audience), all this would probably be terrifying.

At the end of the day, Making Contact isn’t very entertaining for me, but I can’t really blame a movie for catering to its target audience, now can I? This is a children’s movie, and a pretty good one at that. It’s got scares, suspense, wonder, romance, and more elements that are sure to please. However, to a mature audience, it’s very routine and sloppy. This was released a while ago on a 2-Disc set by Anchor Bay and included both the U.S. and German cuts, and I now out-of-print and fetching ludicrous prices. Maybe the German cut will clear some problems I had with this, but then again, it might make them worse. We’ll just have to see. Not New World’s worst hour (by far), but it’s nothing special.

The Verdict: Making Contact is your run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers fantasy adventure, but it’s not atrocious. Don’t be in any sort of rush to see this one, but don’t avoid it either.

Score: 5/10



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