Prospect (2018) - 7/10
Updated: Apr 25, 2021
There’s something to be said for a gritty sci-fi story. Sure 2001 is beautiful and there’s lots of grime in Alien. Prospect is nothing like either. I suspect it’s gritty partly due to a DIY aesthetic and a small production budget. You can make stories like this work without money and slick visuals though. A small isolated cast, cut off and isolated in space. Cee (Sophie Thatcher) and her father Damon (Jay Duplass) are in an old crate of a spaceship that looks like it was built by a production dept in the 70s and it performs as such, crash landing on a planet far from where they’re supposed to be mining for gems. This is the genius. They’re on ‘The Green Moon’ so instead of desolate red planets, full of dusty mountains, they’re in a lush green forest world... and they’re not alone. Father and daughter are suited up, helmets, oxygen and all the equipment they need for mining the gems, which is more a process of alchemy than digging. They stand to make a lot of money, but they don’t have much time. If they miss the space station, that’s their ride gone. That’s not the only danger of course. I said they weren’t alone. There are other miners, it’s like the Wild West in a space forest. One such lawless creature is Ezra (Pedro Pascal), a desperate man who with his mysterious partner threatens to compromise Cee & Damon’s mission and lives. It looks gorgeous, with a muted grade, retro tech of analogue switches and the forest environment. It would’ve sat well in the 70s sci-fi boom. It doesn’t mess about either. With Cee finding herself in a battle for survival against all the planet has to throw at her. Hostile natives, deadly toxic atmospheric dust, but in Ezra she finds an unlikely friend. It’s not overly original and it’s steadily paced, but the characters are likeable, the scenery simple and effective, the plot direct. The two leads work well together. Pascal bringing the aloof cool he delivered in a The Mandalorian. Thatcher conveying the naive unease we feel as strangers on this world. It’s does play the action card a little unnecessarily, but I still enjoyed it.