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Josh Reviews Prospect

February 5th, 2020
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Prospect is a brilliant, low-budget sci-fi film, written and directed by Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell.  When the film begins, a teenaged girl named Cee (Sophie Thatcher) and her father (Jay Duplass) are dropped off on a jungle-filled planet.  Cee’s father is prospecting gems that he is able to extract from the flesh-like pods that are found — if one knows where to look — on that planet.  But Cee and her father are not alone on this alien world, and they soon run afoul of two ruffians who are also prospecting for gems.  When things turn ugly, Cee finds herself forced to pair up with one of them, Ezra (Pedro Pascal), in order to try to survive… but she knows that Ezra cannot be trusted…

Prospect is a magnificent achievement, a wonderfully original sci-fi story.  The film looks fantastic; I am staggered at how Mr. Earl & Mr. Caldwell and their team were able to execute this film without the resources of a big studio behind them.  I don’t know how they did it.  There are space-ships and alien worlds and it all looks great.  Nothing in the film looks cheap or unconvincing.

I love the retro, tactile, analog feel to all of the sci-fi elements in the film (the ships, the atmospheric suits, the tech).  It reminds me, in a very positive way, of the look and feel of Ridley Scott’s original Alien film.  (I’m also reminded of Duncan Jones’ wonderful film Moon, another fantastic original low-budget sci-fi film.)

The film has a very small cast, and each actor excels.  Sophie Thatcher is spectacular as the main character, Cee.  Ms. Thatcher is in pretty much every moment of the film, and she effortlessly carries the film’s story on her shoulders.  We experience the events of the film through her eyes.  Cee is smart and tough but still very much a kid.  I am glad the film doesn’t require her to do anything too super-heroic.  She remains a believable young girl throughout, even as she’s incredibly brave and heroic.  This is a great role, and a great performance.  I’ll be paying close attention to what Ms. Thatcher does next.

Pedro Pascal was great in Game of Thrones, and he’s made quite a splash this year as the lead of The Mandalorian.  He’s terrific as Ezra.  I love this character.  He’s written to be just like Mal Reynolds from Firefly, using flowery, archaic language (no one else in the film speaks like this), and he has that Han Solo-like mix of danger and good-humor.  His sounding so much like Mal Reynolds made me laugh — I have to assume it’s intentional.  The combination of the unusual dialogue and Mr. Pascal’s playful delivery brings Ezra to life and really makes the character sing.  He’s instantly memorable and iconic.  I love that the film keeps you guessing, throughout, as to what Ezra is thinking and what he’s going to do.

Jay Duplass is great as Cee’s father.  We can tell from the first moment we see him that something is a little off about this twitchy guy.  I love the way Mr. Duplass embodies this character.  Andre Royo (Bubbles from The Wire!) is terrific in his one scene as an inhabitant of the planet who Cee encounters.  It’s great to see Mr. Royo on-screen, as always!  (Another alum of The Wire, Anwan Glover, has a small role at the end of the film as a mercenary.  That was a fun surprise.)

I don’t want to tell you too much about this film’s story.  It’s best to go in knowing nothing.  I’ll just say that Prospect is a tense, taut adventure.

I absolutely loved this film.  It was one of my favorite films of 2019.  Track this one down, sci-fi fans — I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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