Space (Sci-Fi) (2020)
Director: Monte Light
Writers: Monte Light, Cooper Holmes
Stars: Lara Jean Sullivan, Michael Klug, Jim Hilton, Kurt Quinn
About 30 years in the future, a group of astronauts are sent on a mission into deep space. Aboard their spaceship The Udo, they have to work together and survive any situation they face.
Space is an indie film project working with a minimal budget, director and screenplay writer Monte Light made the bold decision to use his gameshow winnings from The Price is Right and create a Sci-Fi film. The writers made it easier on themselves since the focus is on future space travel compared to the current day, which would’ve been near impossible for them to do.
Throughout the entire film, a very conscious decision has been made concerning the camerawork, almost every scene is filmed statically, the idea is that the spaceship the characters are inhabiting has one or several camera’s to both record their progress and for the footage to be used in an experiment to collect data on the human psyche during long bouts of spaceflight. Not all scenes throughout the movie use this style, for example, scenes that are back on earth before they went to space are shot more traditionally. Nevertheless taking into account the budget, it was wise for them to shoot it in this way and it does add a certain uniqueness to the entire thing. With it, however, comes some criticism as intentionally or not the audio was certainly lacking at some points more than others and the dramatic effects mainly, later on, weren’t as impactful.
With only a handful of characters throughout the film and rarely any supporting characters making an appearance the attention to character development and motivation behind them and their mission need to be sold very well to the viewer, after seeing it despite more depth being given in the last half of the movie I did not feel any connection with the cast. After the opening credits, it starts with a live news Q&A which was nice enough if it would’ve been accurate to the time the film is set in. Our main character played by Lara Jean Sullivan answers some fundamental questions about space travel that seem to be appropriate to our current day spaceflight dealing with gravity in space, what kind of food astronauts can eat and so on, yet the film is set on a ship that has artificial gravity like popular science-fiction cinema. So even though it does give us a fine introduction, it doesn’t seem to have much accuracy. If we’re looking at the sets and props once again the budget limits that as well, the spacesuits mainly look like coveralls and the seats appear to be repurposed gaming chairs fitted with seatbelts. Embracing the low budget It’s something to accept, but it just stands out a lot disconnecting the viewer to the setting they were going for.
Effects and the limited CGI that was shown was okay, we see some shots of a satellite and the supposed outer hull of the ship, but there’s a specific scene that certainly stood out, and I wish that were in a good way. In the latter half of the film the ship starts breaking apart, this leads to a lot of turbulence, the camera’s start shaking and you can visually see the actors doing their best to sell the fact that the ship is being jostled around, which they do by physically wiggling their bodies. Practical effects certainly would’ve helped.
Despite the criticism and budget constraints, the actors did fine, and it’s mostly the script that seems to be lacking rarely giving the characters room for any logical form of character development and soon after the movie starts they end up mostly yelling and being annoyed by each other. What comes across most, despite the aptitude of the actors themselves is the complete ineptitude of the characters. Sure, Ada Gray is supposedly a scientist and astrobiologist, but just like the other characters, she does not seem trained for spaceflight or educated much at all.
If you’re filming your first film on a limited budget, keep the budget in mind and come up with something attainable.
Being lost in space doesn’t seem so bad compared to this movie.