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Review: Prospect – “A stunning slice of indie sci-fi”

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Prospect is a new low budget indie sci-fi film from Zeek Earl and Christopher Caldwell. Based on their short film of the same name, the feature stars Sophie Thatcher, Pedro Pascal, Jay Duplass, Andre Royo, Sheila Vand, and Anwan Glover.

A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They’ve secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon’s toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest’s other ruthless inhabitants but with her own father’s greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.

Looking at the film at a basic level this is a story you would usually see made as a Western set during the Gold Rush, but if a story is good it can work in pretty much any setting. The story in Prospect works very well.

We spend the first 20 or so minutes with Jay Duplass and Sophie Thatcher’s father and daughter characters, Damon and Cee, as they make planetfall to look for Aurelac, the valuable substance in the film. When I spoke to the filmmakers and Sophie at this year’s New York Comic-Con they had an actual in-universe pamphlet that explained Aurelac and the mining process (you can see some of that below). They explained that they had spent a lot of time working out many different aspects of the films universe – the economics, space flight, mining, different factions and the like. Many of it is barely seen or touched upon in the actual film, but it all helped add realism to the goings-on.

The same care and attention was put into the sets and costumes. It does look like the film had a much bigger budget. It was mainly filmed on location in a beautiful forest. The spacecraft at the start looks lived in and everything seems to work. You can see Jay and Sophie pushing buttons, checking dials and preparing to land. Again it just makes you buy into the whole thing.

The spacesuits are also fantastic, Zeek and Christopher said they spent a long time getting them right and they are chock full of details. They also explained that, unlike many other movies where the helmet is replaced with CG, they used real helmets that fully covered the heads of the actors. As most of the film does have them on the alien planet in their suits this is a hell of an achievement.

It did make filming difficult at times, but it does add to the authenticity of the film. The acting was also fantastic and brought to life the characters with all their problems and needs. Sophie Thatcher gives an incredible performance and is in almost every scene.

The story itself is mainly set on the planet and things go wrong for Damon and Cee when Padro Pascal’s (Game of Thrones, Narcos, Wonder Woman 1984) Ezra gets involved. Things become tense and a race for survival begins.

To say any more would ruin the plot, but it is all immensely satisfying and well acted. The sense of a living, breathing universe is undeniable with the various characters trying to make their way through life. The film could also have worked within other sci-fi settings – Alien, Moon, and even Star Wars could feature stories such as this.

The filmmaking is extremely accomplished and I look forward to seeing more from Zeek Earl and Christopher Caldwell in the future. They have made an incredible feature debut. Hearing about the amount of work they put into creating the backstory and history within the film means they have plenty of opportunities to share new stories set within the same fictional universe.

If you are a fan of sci-fi, indie films or just a well-crafted story then Prospect is well worth checking out. It is a stunning slice of indie sci-fi.

Be sure to see this fantastic film when it comes out in November from Gunpowder & Sky’s sci-fi label, DUST. It also opens on 2nd Novmeber at the Regal Cinemas in New York Union Square and L.A. live theatres. It then goes nationwide in the US on Friday 9th November.

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