Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: A three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardises the lives of everyone on board.
Gravity, Moon, Sunshine (minus the bat crap crazy ending) are all examples of space dramas done right. It’s a relatively small niche in the sci-fi genre and it’s not an easy one to pull off. Space is a great setting for stories based around isolation and paranoia, but the best space dramas are the ones that balance out their heavy, emotional moments with attention-grabbing thrills. And sadly, someone forgot to tell that to the writers of Stowaway.
The premise is a good one. A small group of astronauts are tasked with a mission to Mars, one where they’ve trained extensively for any possible scenario, except one. Turns out an engineer named Michael, played by Shamier Anderson (Wyonna Earp/Dear White People) was accidentally knocked unconscious and somehow ended up on board without anyone knowing (to be fair, he was stuck in a hatch).
When he’s discovered astronauts Zoe (Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick) David (Lost’s Daniel Dae Kim) and Marina (Toni Collette of Knives Out, Hereditary) do their best to calm him down and help him adjust to the fact he’s stuck on this mission to Mars. All is seemingly well until it’s discovered their carbon dioxide scrubber has been damaged beyond repair and they only have enough oxygen for three people to make the trip alive.
So this one’s a bit tricky for me. On one hand, I really appreciated the realistic take on how real-life astronauts—hell, real-life, decent people—would have tried to handle this terrible situation. All of the actors here deliver grounded performances to match that of people trained to handle extraordinary issues such as the ones they have to face. There’s no crazy one-dimensional villain who wants to shoot poor Michael into space and call it a day (although one of them does offer him a way out, but it’s with a heavy heart). No, these three heroes try to do everything within their power and intellect to try and find a way to produce enough breathable air so they can all make it to Mars alive. There’s no over-the-top characters, no sociopaths, just “real” people battling an unwinnable situation.
On the other hand, real life doesn’t always make for good screen time and the lack of tense moments really drags this film down. There’s literally only one scene where I felt myself truly sitting up and paying attention here, and it’s where they make one last dash for oxygen situated outside of their shuttle, and it’s fantastic! Sadly, there’s nowhere near enough moments like this one, so all we’re left with is solid acting in what amounts to be a slow, somewhat boring movie. Even the way the movie ended felt like the writers had no idea how to wrap things up. It’s a moment that should have had you reaching for the tissues. Instead, I saw the credits begin to roll and all I could think was, “That’s it?!”
This one had the potential to be up there with the likes of Gravity. Instead Stowaway, while having a solid cast of talented actors and some really beautiful visuals, just manages to be another sci-fi movie you’ll probably find yourself drifting pass in your Netflix queue as it gets lost among the stars. Stars as in the Hollywood type, not the balls of gas type.
I really need to leave the puns to the experts. Julien! Where u at?!
Sommer’s Score: 5 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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