Due to a combination of time constraints and my inability to stay awake during the commute this morning, I’m going to review today’s film while watching it. Unlike the last time I did this, I’ll try and keep the spoilers to a minimum.
Ivan steals from the best.
00:00:01 Okay, there goes the Optimum Releasing logo. That’s usually a good sign; the guys over there have pretty good taste.
00:00:30 This is like the opening of Gladiator, but instead of Russell Crowe in a miniskirt, it’s an attractive woman in a nightie fondling corn. A step in the right direction if you ask me. No offence, Russ.
00:02:00 Damn, that is a badass space station. It’s like an inside-out, spinning city. Some really nice effects work here.
00:04:21 Very economical exposition. That segue from the woman in the cornfield, which became an advertisement on a screen in the station, then setting up Laura with her video camera reminded me a bit of Joss Whedon’s infodump at the start of Serenity, at least in the structure. Elegantly done.
00:08:42 “Recent terrorist attacks” “Every ship to have a sky marshal” SUBTEXT ALERT!
00:09:04 I just realised this is the first Swiss science fiction film I’ve ever seen. Possibly even the first Swiss any-kind-of film.
00:10:10 The company running the ship is called Kuiper Enterprises. Very nice.
00:11:05 How much do you want to bet that this terrorist from the security video is on board?
00:15:21 We have a montage! This crew are working solo shifts of 8 months each while the others are in cryo. It’s a four-year trip each way from Earth to Station 42. That wouldn’t be another shout-out, would it?
00:18:54 Ominous noises. Something bad might be about to start happening…
00:19:21 This corridor has a lot of water dripping into it, considering they’re in the middle of space and all…
00:21:30 Yeah, that sky marshal isn’t in the least bit creepy. I’m calling it now; he’s gonna be a baddie.
00:24:18 Why do I find it reassuring that bulky torches haven’t really changed much, even 260 years from now?
00:25:01 That is one damn big cargo hold. Nice digital mattes.
00:29:00 The scale of this ship’s interior is truly enormous. But as well as that, it looks spectacular. The production design in this flick is incredible. And now everyone has been woken up. Seven crewmembers, on a huge cargo vessel in deep space. Does that sound familiar to anyone else?
00:32:07 EYE IN A JAR!
00:32:20 Eye in a jar is a camera? Nice.
00:34:30 A cargo of building materials really shouldn’t have a biohazard sticker. There’s a very good unsettling atmosphere in this flick. I like it. I just hope I get a payoff to match.
00:42:02 Maybe the sky marshal isn’t that creepy after all. But the First Officer is a bitch.
00:49:10 Nothing is at it is supposed to be. Including that unfortunately incomplete effects shot.
01:11:32 What do you get if you add The Matrix, Serenity, Alien (without the alien), Aliens (also without the aliens), Capricorn One, Moon and a dash of All The President’s Men? I’ll give you a hint: it’s in German.
01:16:21 And so the countdown begins. The final countdown? Possibly. The film is from Europe, after all. (I’m sorry. If it helps, I hate myself a little for making that gag)
01:22:22 Shit, this is tense. Both hugely derivative and unpredictable at the same time.
01:33:01 Hurry up Laura! You’re ride’s gonna leave without you!
01:34:21 Great shot, kid! That was one in a million! Now let’s blow this thing and go home.
01:36:41 There are a lot of axes just lying around this ship. That can’t be good for the company safety record.
01:38:00 So I was wrong about (not-)creepy sky marshal, but I totally called it on the First Officer being evil. Let’s call her the Reiser.
01:41:22 End credits. And time for some smooth jazz.
01:44:51 Smooth jazz is over. Let’s play a country song now! Weird combo, but it works.
So that was Cargo. As I said, it took elements and beats and characterisations from just about every good sci-fi flick (and one or two straight drama/thrillers) you can think of, but director and co-writer Ivan Engler at least had the good taste to steal from the best. The DVD blurb basically stated outright that it was a standard monster-on-the-loose movie, but it’s a conspiracy thriller first and foremost that just happens to be set in space. No aliens or beasties to be found here. My favourite type of science fiction movies are ones where the trappings of sci-fi are just that: trappings. This could come to be one of my favourite modern sci-fi films.
*Wikipedia just told me the film is actually Switzerland’s first science fiction film ever. So it wasn’t just me then.