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Prospect is a science fiction film that combines many familiar elements to tell a satisfying story. The central through-line of the story is a teenage girl having to grow up in a hostile environment. What makes Prospect so fascinating is its sense of atmosphere and ability to make the world seem real. That’s what gets you hooked on this film, and then it grips you with its characters. The dynamic relationship between Sophie Thatcher’s Cee and Pedro Pascal’s Ezra is a delight to watch.

Prospect
Prospect; Gunpowder & Sky’s DUST 2018

The gist of the story is that Cee and her father, Damon, end up on a moon to harvest a substance called Orelak. This substance is more valuable than gold. As a result, it will help Damon and his daughter get out from under their debts. The catch is that the moon has a toxic atmosphere, and is full of hostile bandits and religious fanatics. Cee is eventually forced to create an uneasy alliance with Ezra in hopes of making it off the moon alive.

While nothing new, it’s how it is executed that matters. And Prospect executes this space gold rush with such panache you will be ready to watch it again. This is the first feature film by Gunpowder & Sky’s sci-fi label DUST.

A Lived In World

Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl are both co-writers and co-directors of Prospect. They also created a short film of the same name from which this film is based. It’s clear they have had this idea for a very long time as the entire film feels carefully planned, down to the intricately detailed props. Speaking of which, most of the special effects in Prospect are completely practical. The little CGI it has, it uses for the purpose of enhancing the practical location shots or to make effects that weren’t possible to do in real life.

Prospect
Prospect; Gunpowder & Sky’s DUST 2018

As a result, the guns, ships, and suits feel grimy, dirty, and used. Making a lived in world visually is difficult, but they pulled it off. It’s clear that the original Star Wars and Alien were a massive influence on Prospect. Caldwell and Earl write dialogue in a particular way to establish the world without overexplaining. Cee, Damon, and Ezra have lived in this world their entire life, so why would they need to explain what is normal for them?

We get them casually mentioning things like “Floater” or “The Green,” and we contextually begin to understand them as the story progresses. Whenever Prospect stops to explain a particular thing about this universe they lampshade it. Cee’s an inexperienced harvester, therefore, is being taught how to get Orelak.

Nailbiting Tension

Prospect is a very intense film that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat and leg bouncing out of nervousness. The way it accomplishes such a feat is by a combination of well-crafted things that work in tandem. The first is the chemistry between the actors Sophie Thatcher and Pedro Pascal.

Every single scene they share is full of subtleties in the performances, and they naturally bounce off each other’s lines with grace. Sophie Thatcher is a relatively unknown actress right now. However, I think the amazing performance she gives side by side with a popular name like Pedro Pascal, means she will go places.

Prospect
Prospect; Gunpowder & Sky’s DUST 2018

The second thing is the fantastic camera work. Prospect manages to pull off a claustrophobic feeling when almost the entire film is set in the woods and open fields. The camera regularly stays tight on our characters, rarely pulling away. Caldwell and Earl also used long tracking shots as well as some POV shots to keep the action grounded and make the area seem much smaller than it actually is.

The music combined with everything else ramps up the tension. The music remains understated and subtle but is an ever-present companion in this toxic world. The constant loud music during tense conversations ensures the audience never grows comfortable much like Cee. The film further opens with Cee listening to music via headphones, which almost gets her in trouble later in the film. It’s a subtle way to show that a source of comfort could potentially become a source of violence in this world. For example, when a character shows up that uses music to mask what she is saying to her comrades.

Prospect Is What A Sci-Fi Film Should Be

Prospect is a tense, grounded sci-fi film with a world that feels completely real. While the main plot of a gold rush is a familiar trope, the way it is utilized to develop the relationship between two interesting characters works. This is a coming of age story of sorts, while also being a space western of sorts. Prospect is a wonderful hybrid of things that result in a gritty, intense film that I want to see more of.

Prospect Is A Space Western Done Right
A Gold Rush In Space
If you enjoy a coming of age stories, westerns, sci-fi, or survival horror and want to see them mixed in an interesting way then Prospect is the film for you. You won't be disappointed, it's great!
4.3
Intensity