Production Studio: N/A
Was this provided by the publisher? Yes
Before we begin, ten quick notes about Prospect:
- Gravity in space?
- Those headphones look awesome.
- “We could be stranded?”
- That’s one heck of a plot flag the first few minutes of the movie.
- Speaking English while inventing another written language? OK. :)
- Excellent acting all around. The addiction wasn’t subtle, but it wasn’t overstated either. Well done.
- Please don’t sexualize the spaceship. Please don’t sexualize the spaceship. Nice buns on that spaceship.*
- “If we miss the sling…” “We will never, ever, have a chance like this again.”
- Back to “Central” kind of money?
- “Keep going until you hit bone.”
Now, some backstory:
Chris Caldwell and Zeek Earl wrote and directed Prospect. They made a modern sci-fi film on a budget of “half a Marvel fight scene.” It was a four-year process. Budgeting was a challenge. They rewrote the script three to four times, and the budget ten times. Making an independent film is challenging. Making an independent science fiction film set on an alien moon? That takes some planning.
Ultimately, audiences don’t care how much a film costs to make. They care about whether it’s any good. Prospect is. Caldwell and Earl were able to put together an impressive cast. Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) is quite a headliner as Ezra, the principal antagonist. Jay Duplass is well known in the industry. I’m guessing most viewers will either know him as “Josh Pfefferman” or “Duncan Deslaurier.” I don’t want to give any spoilers about the rest of the people we’ll meet along the way, but let me offer one recommendation: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a tremendous film.
Prospect depends on the performance of the lead heroine, Cee (played by Sophie Thatcher). It’s a potential breakout role for Thatcher, who was only sixteen when the film was shot. Most space heroines are based off of Alien’s Ripley (who was based off of John Varley’s Cirocco Jones), but Cee isn’t like that at all. She grows and develops out of necessity. The interplay between her and Duplass sets the stage, but it’s her work with Pascal that people will remember. A genuinely impressive performance.
“I had to finish my finals the first week of filming.” -Sophie Thatcher
The universe they inhabit in Prospect is dangerous. The environment could kill them. Every person they meet could kill them. Not finding the way off the moon will kill them. But then again, not earning enough money will leave them in a bad state too. That’s the tension between risk and reward that sets the story in motion.
There is an amazing Chekhov’s Gun in the final act of the film. I am loath to give spoilers, but trust me: you’ll know it when it’s fully revealed.
There are a few problems with Prospect, in that it goes for a gritty feel (it’s essentially a Western). That’s somewhat difficult to pull off, when everyone has to wear a helmet at all times. Additionally, the film is clearly trying to give a feel of hard sci-fi, but it plays fast and loose with physics. This isn’t The Martian.
One criticism that I won’t levy against Prospect, though, is character development. Cee and Ezra don’t finish the film as the same characters they were when it started.
Prospect is getting a nationwide release. I can’t grade it on a curve, as it’s competing against everything Hollywood has to offer. With that in mind, I give the film an eight out of ten.
*Technically it’s a pod, not a spaceship.