Dystopian science fiction is a hot commodity. Throw outer-space in the mix and you have top actors wanting a piece, hoping to be a part of a cult classic. Probably the most recent example of an under-seen classic is Annihilation, where Natalie Portman ventures into another world that threatens to literally swallow humanity. It reminded us that science fiction can explore the unknown and the threats hiding in the shadows of our morbid curiosities. We had this in the original Alien and even Prometheus gave us a glimpse into the unknown. A hundred million dollar budget isn’t needed to make these, but an intriguing story can get the audience sucked in and wanting to learn more. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that way about PROSPECT, the first feature film from Gunpowder & Sky’s DUST.
Damon (Jay Duplass) and his daughter, Cee (Sophie Thatcher), are searching for gem deposits on another planet hoping to strike it rich, but their mission becomes a dangerous one when they encounter other inhabitants. Ezra (Pedro Pascal) is one of those potential dangers even if at some points he might play as a companion. After some unfortunate events, Cee finds herself struggling for survival, but her journey isn’t that interesting as the father daughter relationship isn’t given enough substance to make this the moving drama it needs to be.
I found an emptiness in the quiet that should have been filled with emotion or suspense, but PROSPECT feels underwritten and unfinished. There’s the familiar dystopian element between man and girl, popularized by Logan and the video game The Last of Us, but this doesn’t deliver anywhere near the emotional impact that those two provided. There’s too much of the science talk that’s never explained to those of us who aren’t so familiar and typical movie prop equipment used to maneuver their way around.
While PROSPECT means well and wants to deliver an emotionally driven experience like the best out there, it lacks onscreen chemistry and the narrative is nowhere near as interesting as it wants to be. Pascal, the most recognizable of the cast, plays it low key here and for the most part succeeds. It’s the script that makes him not as interesting as characters he’s played before, but he tries his best with what he’s got. The environment isn’t that interesting either as we’re treated to green screen forests and heavily filtered imagery, giving PROSPECT an Instagram look rather than a cinematic feel. The lack of wonder adds to the inability to recommend this movie. It’s actually based on a short film and feels like it probably was way more effective that way. Some stories don’t need to be told as a full movie.
PROSPECT arrives in theaters in LA and NY on Friday, November 2nd, and nationwide on November 9th.