TAD 2018: Prospect (2018) – Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl

It’s Sci-Fi Night for Toronto After Dark, and Scotiabank Theatre is ready to blast off, starting at 7pm!

Up first tonight is Prospect (the first film being released by Dust the sci-fi arm of the Gunpowder & Sky production house), starring Sophie Thatcher, Pedro Pascal and Jay Duplass. There’s a lot going on production and story-wise in this film. The story is very obviously a lift from classic western tropes and stereotypes, especially those dealing with prospecting, and coming of age stories.

A father and daughter pair, Damon (Duplass) and Cee (Thatcher) land on a remote planet to help some mercs harvest an incredible valuable mineral. Upon arrival, they have three cycles to harvest and get back up into orbit for the return pick-up, but things aren’t going to be that easy, especially when Ezra (Pascal) comes into play.

The story works. There’s a lot I want to talk about, starting with the look of Cee, and Damon’s spacesuits have a retro, lived-in, almost 50s look to them. In fact a lot of the film feels retro. That made me think that in the 1950s, the western and the space fantasy were both in their heydays, and were both interchangeable, as this story shows, and of course, other films and television series that have come along.

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That feeling of the space-western is helped along by Pascal’s performance channeling what feels like a cross between Nathan Fillion’s Mal Reynolds from Firefly, and oddly enough, Burt Reynolds (maybe it’s the mustache). His dialogue, and his delivery is tinged with a western flavor that is right at home with the throwers they use as side-arms.

Speaking of which, another segue, there’s a pistol that one of the mercs has near the end of the movie that looks really familiar to me, and I can’t place it. If anyone recognizes the weapon let me know.

The film embraces its reality, and doesn’t feel the need to explain all the technology and things at work in this universe, we are dropped into it, and can enjoy it right away. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in learning more, the traders they meet halfway through the story seem a little troubling, and one has to wonder about the culture that caused the prisoner at the end of the film to be in the state he is, and Ezra’s partner… what’s his story?

Speaking of, the story has some nice moments, the planet that Cee and the rest find themselves on is a great location, augmented by some subtle visual effects, and Pascal and Thatcher are a great pairing.

Prospect is a solid space western that shows the genre works, and that they can be a lot of fun, check it out!

Sci-Fi Night is off to a great start with this film, and it is preceded by the smart, existential, short, Locomotive 8 – Encore by Sean Janisse.

You can get tickets for tonight’s films, and the rest of the week here.  And then we’ll see you, Toronto, After Dark!

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