While you can see plenty of extraterrestrials come the time of the last Nitelink (someone from ET's extended family was definitely on the 31n a few weeks back, wearing a Doner kebab), on screen, Irish sci-fi is one of the smallest movie genres we have. Now Grabbers, Zonad, Summer of the Flying Saucer and The Boy from Mercury have been joined by Earthbound - as much love story as lasers but, like its predecessors, a little film with its own kooky charm.
Orphaned at 12, Joe Norman (Spall) was told by his dying father (Morrissey) that he was now the last son of Zalaxon, a planet in the throes of war and whose enemies were on the hunt for him. Now, the question is: was Joe's dad telling the truth, or has the sci-fi obsessed, comic shop-working Joe made the whole thing up as a coping mechanism for being left alone in the real world? The crossroads in spaceboy/spoofer's life arrives when he meets a girl named Maria (Murray), a nurse who, his computer tells him, has an 85% genetic compatibility to reproduce. Even Joe knows that this isn't the best conversation to have on the first date, but how long will it be before he has to share his big secret?
First-time writer-director Brennan fantasised as a kid about making Star Wars in Dublin (who didn't) and while adulthood brought more modest ambitions, there is something truly heartwarming about seeing a movie geek putting all the talk into action, going behind the lens and realising their dream. Perhaps there is hope for us all.
Slight but sweet, Brennan's script for Earthbound needed more gags (especially when you've got a talent like Spall at your disposal) and action, but the movie looks like it cost a fair whack more than the €1m budget; the effects are surprisingly decent and PJ Dillon's cinematography is, as ever, superb, with Dublin in the big snow of 2010 a magical place. There are some good points here about loss and moving on and you'd need an outlook blacker than Vader's not to be moved by some of the scenes involving Spall and Murray.
Oh, the Spire is finally put to some good use, too - Freedom of the City for the man in the Yoda t-shirt.