- BOTTOM LINE
- A Sci-Film That Bores You to Death
What is the Story about?
It looks like curtains for planet Earth, which is deemed inhabitable due to self-destructive path humans have taken to fufill their selfish needs across centuries. Most of the world’s populace has now shifted its base to Jupiter’s moon, IO. However, a young scientist Sam Walden, refuses to give up hope that there’s still scope for life at Earth. Her father Dr. Walden’s undying faith on the Earth’s ability to foster human existence rings deeply in her mind. Only until a stranger, Micah arrives at Sam’s house. In the last resort to change her mind, Micah forces Sam to join him for the Earth’s final shuttle to the IO in two days time. The decision isn’t an easy one to make.
This is an apocalyptic film where Earth isn’t showcased as a place of hope as a habitat. Hence, the film is only driven by two characters, Sam Walden and Micah, played by Margaret Qualley and Anthony Mackie respectively. Margaret Qualley is the star performer in an otherwise underwhelming, dull film. She really gives a viewer a peek into the character’s mind and what it means to be the among the last residents on the Earth. Experiencing loneliness every moment and portraying hope and fear at once isn’t an easy gamble and there are no two things about her credibility as an actor.
Anthony Mackie isn’t a bad co-actor to Margaret either, but the shallowness of his characterisation never quite makes us care for his role. He comes way too late into the film and there’s no depth to his sob flashback either.
Direction By Jonathan Helpert?
Filmmaker Jonathan Helpert takes too subtle an approach for a sci-fi film and never backs his story with adequate detailing. For a genre like this, there ought to have been a better scientific basis to Sam’s insistence on staying back on Earth. There are bulky references to poetry, modern art, and Biblical Adam-Eve themes, that override the intentions of this wannabe film. If not for its reasonable CG work and VFX, you could have even mistaken this to be an emotional drama (that never gets going in the first place).
As a last-ditch effort, the director brings some pace into the proceedings in the final 15-minute stretch, but then, his characters are too uni-dimensional and dull for you to expect any kind of a surprise. Having a film that revolves around only a couple of actors is not a primary cause for concern here. What disappoints you more is the director’s inability to liven up the narrative and create any sparkle in the film whatsoever. Even with a 90 minute running time, IO tests your patience.
Music and other departments?
Alex Belcher, the composer is definitely one of the unsung heroes of the film for his efforts to create a music score that’s truly atmospheric. With terrific sound design in place, a viewer really gets to understand the fury of nature through the music. It is an extremely challenging prospect for a cinematographer to shine in a film that doesn’t boast much variety in its exterior/interior locations. The DOP André Chemetoff proves his worth with his efforts and ensures a haunting quality to his cinematography that elevates the technical grandeur of the film. So is the terrific CG, VFX work that nearly helps the film tide over its sloppy writing.
Margaret Qualley’s brilliant performance
Technically superior film
Sloppy writing that makes the film feel like a television soap
Doesn’t quite do justice to the sci-fi genre
Will you recommend it?
IO Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur