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Olatz López Garmendia
A pair of shuttle astronauts leave their spacecraft to repair a satellite. There's an explosion. NASA loses contact for two minutes, but the both are rescued and safely returned to Earth. Eventually it becomes evident that neither of the astronauts is quite the same. Written by
There is scene in this movie in which a stroke is medically referred to as "a severe insult to the brain". A line which describes this entire film far better than any reviewer possibly could.
Obviously influenced by The X-Files, the first thing that strikes the viewer is the invasive use of tense mood music. If the Astronaut's Wife is opening a fridge there is a string quartet behind anxiously heralding a danger which subsequently doesn't exist. In a TV show like The X-Files it's a trick used to great affect because it's stylistic and the shows exhibit a degree of wit and imagination that relieve us from the pointless tension. Neither of those saving graces feature in this film.
The characters are poorly drawn, we're constantly told Spencer (The Astronaut) has changed since his last mission into space. We need to be told this so often because we're deprived of witnessing very much of his prior personality. And throughout the story Jillian (The Wife) never functions as anything more than a paranoid wreck, even before she suspects that something is really wrong.
Fans of Depp and Theron will be as disappointed as the rest of us. Johnny's flyboy astronaut is utterly out of place since we all know true spacemen are stiff and boring scientists, yet this guy is exhuberant like the barnstorming 1950's test pilots that never really existed. God only knows what hewas thinking with this part. And Charlize, throughout she never lifts above the catatonic. Literally, and I mean this folks, there is nothing more to her performance than the bags under her eyes and hers is the lead character, our heroine for crying out loud! That's beyond appalling.
As a thriller there is never a comfort break in this pretentious sci-fi flick that asks us to care for a character it's impossible engage with. It's non-stop, we're expected to be in the edge of our seat with every single scene, and if the plot doesn't supply the drama a 'bus' (that's the Hollywood term for a false shock) will. They are countless, and soon annoying. The same can be said for the way The Wife is mysteriously at the front of every crowd during key moments of action, which is one of the other cheap dramatic tricks overused by a really really bad director.
Until recently writer/director Rand Ravich hadn't been in charge of a film since this 1999 failure, you'll know why.
Fifteen years ago this was the kind of film that made a frustrated Quentin Tarantino decide he really needed to begin making his own.
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