Monday, January 09, 2017


Not a lot that I really enjoyed in this, except maybe super-beardy Chris Pratt. That was definitely fun. There's one sorta-twist in the film, but it's barely even that, and it happens quite early on. It is important to the romantic relationship, but—well, I won't spoil it now.

I'll spoil it later, after a warning. =)

If you've seen a trailer or ad, except for the sorta-twist, you pretty much know what you're getting. A couple of fine specimens are stranded on a spaceship, faced with the possibility of living out their lives within its hull, never reaching their destination. We get a sort of Robinson Crusoe couple—Jim the mechanic and Aurora the journo—castaways on a spaceship with AIs and robots as supporting characters. Not the most dazzling premise, but given the power of a big budget, it could be taken to some very interesting and visually stunning places, especially when Arthur, the android bartender, suggests making the best of the situation. Y'know, basically, the starship is your oyster.

Yeah, I don't like oysters, but forget that. We see them indulge in some harmless vices and future fun, but man, they could've gone further and funner. Missed opportunities to amp up the space courtship and give us something truly big-screen-worthy.

Why don't you show us what movies or TV shows they choose to watch?

Then we get to see Jim apparently exhaust his amusement options and enter despair. This could also have been mined for more, in repetition and chaos and waste.

And of course, there's an existential threat to deal with. It was difficult for me to care all that much, given its vague explanation/portrayal.

Despite how impressive Pratt's Grizzly Adams beard is, alas, I cannot recommend this. I can give you more of the why, but I feel I have to give up the sorta-twist to do it, so, after this paragraph, I'll ramble further—WITH SPOILERS…

When I first saw the trailer for the film, I was mildly psyched. As soon as the movie came out, right before Christmas, I lost that. Tonight, I was looking for some candy and felt like this might hit the spot. I was kind of hoping for this to be something I could mentally insert into THE EXPANSE as an alt tale of the 100-some year journey of the Mormon Ark named the Nauvoo.

Mmm…Not so much. Underwhelming on the sci-fi front. Annoying on the plot front.

I appreciate the basic EVA suit design (still annoyed every time I see a helmet that's brightly lit on the inside, but I think designers are trying to be careful about pairing that with bright/brighter exterior lights these days), the mag boots, and the tethers, but why no propulsion options?

The thing that really bugged me—you've got three arms of the ship spinning for centrifugal force as gravity, but every time the characters are looking out at the stars, they are not moving or spinning. I get that the movie is probably looking for a romantic view as backdrop to the courtship, but imagine and create a space for that in the hub of the ship! Might as well just do artificial gravity, bleah.

When Jim has to protect himself from some superhot plasma, he turns a door in the interior of the ship into a makeshift heat shield. Maybe I missed detail that explains the door's worthiness for this use, but it sure played a lot more like a sarcastic remark, maybe a joke, than a legit thoughtful precaution. Needless to say, it worked.

And the plot front…So, it's basically YOU'VE GOT SPACE MAIL. You remember YOU'VE GOT MAIL? Substitute Pratt for Hanks and Lawrence for Ryan, change the bookstore war to a 120-year-long space voyage, Jim's engineering knowledge for Hanks's character's book mogul wealth, and that's pretty much it. The sorta-twist of the story/relationship is that Jim and Aurora are not accidentally woken up together. Only Jim is, and after a year of life alone on the ship, he decides to wake Aurora, to be the space-Eve to his space-Adam, or at least a compatible companion…Human company to help keep him from losing his mind and possibly taking his life.

Hrm…Y'know, later in the movie we see that they're able to raise chickens on board. Jim couldn't revive or artificially gestate a dog? =)

And hey, ho, whaddyaknow? They hit it off. Of course, Jim's spent weeks watching Aurora's profile/interview videos and reading everything he can find that she's written. In one of those videos, I think she says that a cup of coffee and a view of the Chrysler building can keep her writing forever. And when Jim leaves her a present of a Chrysler building sculpture assembled from machine parts and a cup of coffee, she doesn't question him on the inspiration. Maybe she told her that? Or maybe she's not surprised that he'd know because she'd assume that he checked out her videos and maybe she had done the same to him?

But we never see that. That would've been interesting. Having her present him with something that she could only know about after doing some digging. But no. We do see her sitting him down for an "interview," asking him to his face his motivation for leaving Earth.

Luckily, Jim has chosen wisely. He's picked his perfect match-whom-he-happened-to-study-and-obsess-over-for-weeks-maybe-months-as-she's-slept. Aurora even remarks, or maybe writes, about how amazing it is that two such unlucky people have lucked out in finding one another.

YOU'VE GOT MAIL bothered me for the same reasons. The guy has all this power and intel over the woman and she has no idea. Of course, it's revealed at some point, and she despises him for it, but then Something happens (I don't remember the deets of YGM now) and it's somehow all okay and forgiven.

Hrm…Maybe that means they DO belong together?

The Something in this case is that they both face immediate death by reactor core overload or something like that. Jim has to do an EVA to solve the problem, opening an exterior door to vent some superhot plasma or whatnot into space to cool the reactor, and of course, if successful, he will likely not survive.

There's a kinda interesting couple of seconds when they do some math over the comms. She says—Don't do it! I can't live without you! Better we die together! He says—There's 5000 other people on board…

Man, he gets to pull that out whenever he wants to for the rest of their lives, eh?

There's also an appearance by Laurence Fishburne as Gus Mancuso, as a slightly-magical crewman, woken early due to ship malfunction. He doesn't bestow too much wisdom, but does get them access to ship sections, controls, and capabilities not allowed to passengers. Y'know, before he abruptly dies. Oh! But before that, he DOES mention to Jim (on discovering that Jim woke Aurora) that he couldn't believe how lucky he got being trapped with Aurora, and starts to lead Aurora down a kinda bro-y path of yes-you're-right-it's-murder-but-don't-judge-Jim-too-harshly.

Weird bit of stuntcasting for the ship's captain, who doesn't appear until the last minute of the film in an epilogue showing the ship's arrival at their new green homeworld—Andy Garcia? Wack.

Oh, Michael Sheen as Arthur the android bartender seems like a waste of resources. Another missed opportunity. Maybe intentional misdirection of some kind? The ship's bar IS kind of gorgeous, and has this wonderful SHINING potential. It's a shame the story doesn't go that direction in a corrupted AI way. Would've made for a much better film.

The revelation of Jim's while-you-were-sleeping scheming to Aurora is delivered by Arthur as a result of poor word choice by Jim. When he says that there are "no secrets" between Aurora and himself, Arthur's small talk algorithm up and decides to reflect on how much Jim agonized over the decision to wake her from hibernation. Almost want to give the movie points for that, but the way it unfolds on screen is so clunky, I can't. And we've never seen Arthur in a situation like this before in the film. It's just…annoying.

Gosh, I hope this wasn't his last role before retiring from acting for activising…?

Yeah, so, I say skip it and watch MOANA or ROGUE ONE again instead. =)

Keep on keepin' on~