ESP’s film critic Gavin Miller is keeping an eye on the small screen offerings while the cinemas are shut and takes a look at the latest on Netflix…
This George Clooney directed big-budget Netflix exclusive is bustling with interesting ideas – but never coherently comes together into one exciting piece.
Oscar-winner Clooney also stars in this fantasy drama – set on a post-apocalyptic 2049 earth – and puts in a stand-out performance alongside a stellar cast that includes Academy Award nominee Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), David Oyelowo (Selma), Kyle Chandler (Super 8) and Demian Bichir (The Hateful Eight).
The only problem is the rest of the cast – bar Bichir – seem to be just going through the motions as this really struggles to ever get going.
As what seems to be – though never truly explained – a catastrophic radioactive wave engulfs the globe, Clooney’s lonely scientist Augustine is left at a research facility in the Arctic at his own behest, as he’s terminally ill with cancer.
He’s only alive as the planet killing event hasn’t reached him yet, but he gets a late reason for living when he locates a young girl Iris (Caoilinn Springall) who has accidentally been left at the station.
And when Augustine realises that there’s a shuttle returning to earth – housing Oyelowo’s Commander Adewole, Jones’ Dr Sullivan and co – into the midst of the global catastrophe that will mean certain death to all on board, he has to try and warn them.
The only problem is that the satellite that is big enough to contact them is miles away from the station, so he and Iris must go on a death-defying conquest across the perilous Arctic ice to gain contact with the team of astronauts that are themselves returning from a mission on one of Jupiter’s moons (the fictional K-23) which has been deemed to have earth-like qualities.
But what from the outside seems like it’s got all the ingredients to be a potentially terrific drama, ends up, well, a little bit tepid.
The two intertwining stories – Clooney in the Arctic, and the crew in space – don’t really enthral enough (despite Clooney’s noteworthy performance), and there’s not really enough time spent with the astronauts to get their characters to resonate.
So what we’re left with is a hodge-podge of an intelligent premise that never seems like it’s been truly fleshed out – and a really boring space walk is thrown in too.
Which leaves this as one of Clooney’s lesser directorial efforts – that never really lights up the sky. Even with a bit of a twist ending.
It’s not bad though – as it’s still an impressive production – just a bit underwhelming.
It aims for the stars and simply never leaves the ground.
ESP Rating: 2.5/5
Cast: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Demian Bichir, Kyle Chandler, Tiffany Boone, Caoilinn Springall, Sophie Rundle & Ethan Peck
Running Time: 1 Hr 58 Mins
Director: George Clooney