While the cinema remains closed our resident movie reviewer brings you the best of what’s on the small screen. Gavin Miller checks out the latest Sci-Fi offering on Netflix…
For the casual viewer who stumbled across this space-flick in Netflix’s Top Ten chart (reaching number two) it may initially seem to be a boring slow-paced sci-fier after the first twenty minutes – but patience definitely is a virtue here.
That’s because its methodical build eventually evolves into a surprisingly tense moral thriller after its seemingly uneventful ‘setting the scene’ opening.
And two stand-out female lead performances from an actress who is usually associated with comedic/songstress roles – the Pitch Perfect and Trolls series – in Anna Kendrick (even though she did grind her thriller teeth with a noteworthy turn in A Simple Favour), and the ever-reliable The Sixth Sense Oscar-nominated star Toni Collette, definitely adds plenty of character to proceedings.
In fact due to the moralistic twist, it’s best to keep the movie info to a minimum, with actually only four actors in the entire film – with Kendrick and Collette joined by Lost’s Daniel Dae Kim and Shamier Anderson (from popular TV series Wynonna Earp).
A three person crew – Commander Marina Barnett (Collette), biologist David Kim (Dae Kim) and medical researcher Zoe Levenson (Kendrick) – are on a two-year mission to Mars (but this isn’t a Mars-based movie).
But after launch they realise they’ve accidently picked up a support engineer – Anderson’s Michael Adams – who was injured during his ground duties and ended up inside the launch vehicle that was tethered to the main hull. That is the one major bizarre plothole of the movie – with no explanation to how this happened – but once you get past that things start to develop.
Especially when the crew realise that Adams inadvertently damaged the CDRA – a device which scrubs carbon dioxide from the air – which will only leave enough oxygen for two passengers. Barnett then orders Kim to cultivate his algae on the ship rather than at the Martian colony as planned – which then provides oxygen for a third crew member.
Which sadly leaves the inexperienced Adams as the odd one out, and if he isn’t ‘disposed off’ they will all die – leaving the crew with a heartbreaking conundrum as the very best technicians and scientists on Earth exhaust every possible outcome to try and save him.
But while veterans Barnett and Kim are willing to do what needs to be done, Levenson convinces them to wait a few more days until absolutely every eventuality is thoroughly explored.
What this leads to is a tense and moving confined drama that – once you get past the far-fetched initial set-up – really showcases the talents of all the actors at hand, to the backdrop of the eerie loneliness of space.
It may be a little bit plodding for some, but the intriguing morality aspect is what makes this an expansive watch – as this becomes another commendable addition to Netflix’s impressive portfolio.
ESP Rating: 3.5/5
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Shamier Anderson, Daniel Dae Kim and Toni Collette
Running Time: 1 Hr 56 Mins
Director: Joe Penna