Spling reviews Stowaway, Damsel and Sharkwater: Extinction as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.
Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…
This week, we’re talking about a deep space drama thriller, a quirky western comedy and an environmental documentary.
Starting off with a film now on Netflix…
A three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice.
Writer-Director: Joe Penna
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim and Toni Colette
– Stowaway is a character-driven drama that centres around a deep space mission gone wrong.
– Featuring a solid cast, this film is led by Anna Kendrick who takes on a complex role not unlike Sandra Bullock in Gravity.
– What starts like any space mission, replete with lift off turns into a race against time as critical decisions need to be made after a stowaway is discovered on board.
– While this film is visually detailed and as appealing as most space drama thrillers in its league, it’s the performances that set it apart.
– Taut enough to play on stage, the morality drama becomes the crux as altruism and sacrifice become watch words.
– While a little slow-moving, much like Gravity, this drama could have happened almost anywhere under similar do-or-die circumstances.
– Powered by an emotive soundtrack, solid performances and translating the intellectual and emotional turmoil into gut-wrenching drama, it’s effective and haunting.
– There’s another timely dimension to this drama based on the character profiles but it’s still just as compelling from a humanistic point-of-view.
– Offering a thought-provoking dilemma, delving into the grey area of mission vs. human life and challenging audiences with its heroic yet open-ended resolution, its stoicism, fine cast, detailed production design and realistic take make all the difference.
It did just enough to get a solid 7 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now on Showmax…
The lines between hero, villain and damsel blur as a man sets out on a quest to marry his fiancee.
Directors: David Zellner and Nathan Zellner
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska and David Zellner
– Pattinson may have first gained prominence for his part in Twilight, but has demonstrated his brimming talent with a string of bold lead performances in Good Time, The Lighthouse and Tenet.
– Damsel is no different, allowing the actor to revel in the quirkiness of this offbeat Western.
– Its independent spirit and bizarre mix of comedy drama is primarily centred around the concept of a damsel.
– The characters are captivating even if not fully explored, creating a colourful tapestry and shapeshifting story that’s entertaining even if fleeting.
– Built on Pattinson and Wasikowska’s hefty performances, it’s a strange balancing act as a small circus of outlandish characters parade their reckless behaviour in a bid to amuse.
– Beautiful on-location photography frames the western as traditional elements are given a fresh spin, tending to rely on its wilderness, quirky tone and big gun actors.
– Spirited, unpredictable and at times moving as if by association, this nutty jaunt loses its true North and slips out of its historical context from time to time.
– Losing something in the handover along with its momentum, there are still enough thoughtful ideas, offbeat comedy moments, fun performances and entertainment value to muster a watch.
A flat 5 on the splingometer!
And finally a documentary on Amazon Prime…
Filmmaker Rob Stewart exposes the illegal fishing industry that threatens the survival of the world’s sharks.
Writer-Director: Rob Stewart
– Stewart is the documentarian who brought Sharkwater to light, exposing the shark fin soup industry and affecting positive change through awareness.
– Something of a sequel, the filmmaker sets about gathering more footage of ongoing exploitation within the fishing industry with repercussions on a global scale.
– Pinpointing red flag ports, governments and stakeholders he sets about uncovering even more exploitation in his bid to redress the world’s perception of sharks.
– Jaws and the pop culture proliferation of sharks as deadly apex predators, in spite of only killing about five people a year, has made it difficult for people to truly care about the creature or its impending decimation.
– Tackling the widespread and ongoing devastation of the shark fin industry and governmental apathy Stewart’s misadventures take him on a sprawling journey, which see him doing some dangerous undercover work.
– His heroics, life’s mission, near-death experiences and fatalistic philosophy eventually explain why this documentary is scattershot.
– While more fearless and focused than Seaspiracy, the impetus here is on sharks making some startling observations and creating awareness in spite of the documentary’s generalist ambitions.
– Sharkwater:Extinction would have been much more powerful as a character portrait, identifying a bold filmmaker’s life ambitions, but finds itself in a place where it’s entertaining, experiential and even exciting if not quite as sharp as it is a haunting.
– While impassioned, the pull between awareness campaign, entertainment spectacle and fitting tribute leave it important yet lost at sea.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
STOWAWAY… fine performances and tense morality drama compel this familiar yet thoughtful, competent and handsomely mounted deep space thriller… A solid 7!
DAMSEL… entertaining performances and an amusing tone steady this quirky western and offbeat comedy after a near-fumbled change-up causes it to lose momentum… A flat 5!
SHARKWATER: EXTINCTION… startling footage and impassioned investigative filmmaking drive this important yet scattershot documentary and tribute… A satisfactory 6!
For more movie reviews, previous Talking Movies podcasts and upcoming Bingeing with Spling watch parties visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!