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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Leisurely Paced Space Movie
by James Colt Harrison

With George Clooney made-up to look like Methuselah’s grandson, he’s a dead ringer for a run-down Santa Claus suffering from exhaustion from being caught in a snow storm at the North Pole. Clooney is now into playing character-star parts as he ages and  is now running the whole show by being the film’s director. Smart move, as he can give himself all the best close-ups, which probably made leading lading Felicity Jones cry once she found that he got better lighting. But we love George for all the philanthropic work he has done and can forgive him for a vanity project now and then.


Apparently, Clooney loves science fiction, so he has taken on the enormous task of producing a motion picture that has required giving employment to hundreds of technicians and artists. He must have liked author Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel about a grizzled old man trying to save the human race, for he bought the story and asked Mark L. Smith to fashion a screenplay that could be filmed in dazzling color and wide screen.


Clooney has taken another approach to sci-fi movies in that his is directed at a glacial pace, thus mirroring the ice floes on screen. No death rays or rockets exploding for Clooney; no, we have a measured look at space without the accompanying strains of Johann Strauss’s “The Blue Danube” as we did in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. But there is a lovely score by Alexandre Desplat, and that will have to do.


Now, at first we think Clooney is playing an old prospector in the Klondike who took a wrong turn and ended up in the Arctic. But no, he’s allegedly a professor of space wizardry who is trying to save human kind from some sort of disaster that has happened on earth. It is never fully explained what happened, but from the scenes we are shown, it looks as though the earth has suffered some an atmospheric malady that clouds the planet, thus making it inhabitable. At the outpost station in the snow, he packs up all the personnel into helicopters and evacuates them back to their families. One child is left behind, played by a mute but adorable moppet actress Caoilinn Springall. We don’t know why he is saddled with her until later.


Still hovering in space on a space station is the crew who is looking for another habitable planet. The scheme is to have everyone on earth transfer to that planet and live there. It will take many Greyhound busses to get there, but the crew is ready. With the time it takes to get from earth to a planet-moon off Jupiter, everyone will be ready for Shady Pines by the time they arrive.


The crew is commandeered by David Oyelowo as Adewode, a muscular and fit spaceman who loves crew member Sully (not Sully Sullenberger), who is felicity Jones. She happens to be pregnant by Adewole, so something more than tightening pipes and adjusting radar screens must be going on in their off hours.Looking handsome in his space suit is Kyle Chandler as does fellow crew member Sanchez, played by International star Demian Bichir. Tiffany Boone adds some glamour and youth as a rookie space cadet who is determined to  go outside the ship on her first space walk. We don’t know why she didn’t get this in training school, but it gave Clooney as reason to shoot some death-defying scenes.


The only excitement in this leisurely-paced film are some scenes shot in space of the ship colliding with space-junk and boulders flying off some exploding planet in the Universe. Technical scenes are marvelously produced. The artists involved in making these scenes so real and exciting  are to be congratulated and should be given a raise in salary and a box of Godiva chocolates for their efforts.


The film is well-done technically. It will take audiences getting used to watching a movie that doesn’t switch scenes every ten seconds. No explosions. No space fights. No Kamikaze planes knocking each other out of the air –except there is no air in space! There is really no suspense in the film, either, except perhaps wondering if creaky George is going to make it through the blizzards.


It’s a two hour look at what may occur in the future. Technically it’s a beautifully made film. Dramatically-eh!


(Released by Netflix and rated “PG-13” for some bloody images and brief strong language.)

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