'Prospect' review: A tale of survival that redefines the landscape of Indie sci-fi
Instead of going for over-the-top tech and weapons or even making outer space look outlandish, Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl focused on creating a real world.
The indie movie scene has never had a dearth of quality content, but making good-looking and sounding films has always been a challenge that the community has faced. However, challenging the norms of an indie sci-fi is writer-directors Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl’s film ‘Prospect,’ which, as the name suggests, promises a lot of it. Instead of going for over-the-top tech and weapons or creating aliens in the most “alieny” way or even making the outer space look outlandish, the duo focused on creating a world that feels real.
This gem of a story in fact, is about a father Damon, wonderfully played by Jay Duplass, and his teenage daughter Cee, portrayed by the talented Sophie Thatcher, who take on one pointless mission after another as they float along without purpose. Well, Cee is mostly an unenthusiastic partner who has no choice but to tag along. A lot remains unsaid between this duo, with Cee hoping for a more present and alert father in the alcoholic and drug addict Damon and he in turn is hoping for his big break.
We meet them on their mission to a remote alien moon, where they hope to strike rich by mining the valuable resources farmed by the inhabitants who live below ground. However, as always, their plans go awry when their ship crashes and they come face-to-face with Ezra, thief and a killer, whom the father-daughter duo get weary of and distrust almost immediately. This role is brought to life by the versatile Perdo Pascal and let’s get it out of the way, yes he is protecting his head with a hard helmet this time around.
Most of the film involves Ezra and Cee, where they learn to simultaneously trust each other – because that is the only way to survive – and be distrustful of each other – because they know the golden rule of 'every man for himself'. Ezra becomes an antiheroic version of a father Cee yearned for over the course of the film, which sees them going to toe-to-toe in some potentially fatal battles.
The beautiful visuals of Hoh Rainforest in Washington state offer the illusion of outer space. The ingenious idea to keep this world as green and earthly as one would imagine reflects in Caldwell and Earl’s well-thought-out execution of a beautiful story. They exchanged the overexplaining of the futuristic gadgets and alien life for simplistic storytelling that drop very little hints as to why, what and where, allowing the viewers to fill in their own blanks and closing up any prospect of plot holes.
Building new worlds seem to be Caldwell and Earl’s forte, having been practical and resourceful about the whole ordeal. The locations are well thought out and practical, while characters are believable, even if at times hollow. This is why, I believe the best investment of their budget for this film is in their cast. They all breathe life into their characters, Duplass and Pascal have proved time and again to be masters of their craft, and it is no surprise that their efforts make their characters seem more well-rounded than the plot allows them to. Thatcher is the start that undeniably and objectively stands out in ‘Prospect,’ with Cee’s character development throughout the film deserving a special applause.
Having been second-in-command to her emotionally absent father (presumably) all her life, Cee had learned to be resourceful. It is this resourcefulness and natural intelligence that helps keep the plot moving, even as the threat of being stranded in an alien land looms over their heads. She starts off as a naïve teenager who evolves into – or proves to be – the toughest one among them all.
This feature film started off as a short and its ambitious growth is very evident in the film. If you are looking to be pleasantly surprised this weekend by a little Indie then could we suggest 'Prospect'. The movie, the project by Gunpowder & Sky’s DUST, opens at Regal’s New York Union Square and Los Angeles L.A. Live theaters on November 2, and goes nationwide on Friday, November 9.