Prospect is an indie sci-fi thriller due for release on Amazon Prime. With a synopsis that promises an epic to rival the work of Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan, expectations were incredibly high. And while this doesn’t really come close to these lofty ideals, for a low budget sci-fi it’s surprisingly good.
The film is set at an unknown time in an unknown part of space. Whatever era, humans have discovered space travel and are crossing the galaxy in rather antiquated and old-fashioned looking space ships. We meet Damon (Jay Duplass) and his teenage daughter Cee (Sophie Thatcher), travelling in a pod docked to a moving space station. They’re prospectors in search of valuable gems on alien planets, and with the space station they’re on being decommissioned after its latest run, they decide to try one last mission to recover an elusively large haul of gems known as the ‘Queen’s Lair’.
They land on an alien moon in the middle of a forest, off course and with damage to their pod. Damon has secured a contract with a group of mercenaries to recover the Queen’s Lair, and on route he and Cee recover more gems of their own – a process that involves recovering alien sacs from an underground chamber, treating each delicately and carefully otherwise the sac destroys the gem hidden inside. While traversing the forest they encounter two other prospectors, including the shady yet charismatic Ezra (Pedro Pascal). After a horrific incident, Cee and Ezra are left to fend for themselves, and each with their own complications to attend to, decide to work together to try and survive and find a way off the planet while they still can.
I was pleasantly surprised by this film. For something so obviously low budget, it is very well executed. The set and costume designs are fantastic and very reminiscent of earlier sci-fi films from the 80s and 90s. There is some questionably spotty CGI in places, but for the most part, a lot of the wider planetary shots and space station views are incredibly well done. The moon is obviously meant to be similar to Earth albeit with a toxic atmosphere, and while this does work overall, occasionally it does feel like you’re in a forest in the middle of the United States. The soundtrack and music used is excellent and very in keeping with both the moon’s surrounding and the overall theme of the film.
From a performance point of view, Pedro Pascal shines here. He takes a character that on introduction seems very horrible and unpleasant and you see his development across the course of the film into an almost different person. Sophie Thatcher is good as Cee but I don’t feel she’s given very much to work with, which is strange when she’s obviously the lead protagonist. Cee is still a likeable character, but has a limited opportunity for development, although it’s good to hear more about her backstory later in the film. The relationship that develops between Cee and Ezra is interesting to watch and there’s a particularly nice scene (involving a rather chilling and well-executed amputation) where you see the two bond.
I do feel the film falters a little with its exposition and the dialogue used to help us understand the world and the position Cee and Damon live in. There are numerous conversations that are obviously aimed at filling in the back story, but for me, this almost felt like gibberish and so difficult to understand. It was in English but just wasn’t basic and simple enough to understand. There are also scenes in the final act involving a foreign language with no subtitles, and while you can get a vague gist of what is meant, it didn’t really help with the entire understanding of the wider story.
While it may not quite live up to the works of Christopher Nolan or Ridley Scott, Prospect is a surprising little gem of a sci-fi that was much better than expected and entertaining to watch.
Signature Entertainment presents Prospect on Amazon Prime Video 27th August
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!