At the height of the Cold War, a Soviet spacecraft crash lands after a mission gone awry, leaving the commander as its only survivor. After a renowned Russian psychologist is brought in to evaluate the commander's mental state, it becomes clear that something dangerous may have come back to Earth with him.
'Sputnik' is a word associated with space exploration, as it was the name of the first artificial satellites put in orbit around the earth. It is also the Russian word for 'companion' or 'fellow traveler', alluding to the companion the commander brings along. See more »
I know something about Russian cinema (I live near Russia and I speak Russian).
Let me explain why this movie is not what it could've been.
First of all, modern big-budget Russian cinema is desperately trying to copy Hollywood-style productions and franchises, they even borrow some scripts and ideas (which is fine, many European filmmakers do this). Indie Russian filmmakers mostly do other types of films and there are lots of great Russian films out there, like Durak (2014), Leviathan (2014), Zhit (2010), Zavod (2018) and many more.
This film is not an exception in terms of Hollywood copy-pasting. Up to around 1 hr mark, they just copy scenes and concepts from popular films like Annihilation, Venom, Gravity (opening scene), Arrival, After Earth, and Alien Covenant. This is a common practice since sometimes they just straight-up rip off scripts and whole films like Nochnye strazhi (2016) (MIB rip-off with vampires), Den D (2008) (Commando scene-by-scene ripoff), Voin (2015) (a rip-off of Warrior (2011) and many, many more.
They do this copy-paste pretty well, the cinematography is great, the 80ties Soviet-era setting works although they never really dive deep into it since this film was made for international release and most of the more complicated stuff just wouldn't be understood. In this film though they re-create those scenes not exactly knowing what they are meant to establish. Many scenes are supposed to be emotional but not in this film, they clearly misunderstood the tone of some of those since the music is heavily misused in this. Like the scene where the doctor is transported to the facility, which was taken from the Arrival, but they play military-style music which does not fit well into the "delving into the unknown" style of the scene, more like an action film build-up.
Right around 1hr mark, they run of these and just start making their own stuff up, making really big stretches in terms of the script. Since the premise was a mix of other films they didn't really know where to go with this and thus, the film transformed into a mess of unbelievable scenes and random unnecessary subplots. Character motivation is completely dropped and all the things the characters do make absolutely no sense, nobody knows what and why they are doing.
The kid subplot was so incredibly unnecessary and disconnected that removing it from the story would change absolutely nothing. I have absolutely no idea why it was even included (probably because of using this mix of ideas they didn't really know what genre the film is supposed to be, a sci-fi horror? a family drama? who knows).
The ending is very messy and kind of defeats the purpose of most of the unmotivated character actions, which is a staple of these types of films.
We will surely see more of these since foreign markets are very profitable, and since most of these big productions are co-funded by Fond Kino (Cinema Fund, Russian governmental organization), the creators are not really scared of losing money and are just trying to build up better visuals and more recognizable imagery to sell their product worldwide.
Even though this film was quite a mess, I still want to give props to the filmmakers (one of which is the son of a great Soviet director Sergei Bondarchuk (the author of many great films and even an oscar-winning Voyna i mir (1966-67), who plays the commander in this one) for achieving a technical level of a good Hollywood production.
Too bad they had no original concept or a general idea of what they are trying to show.
Hope this review makes it easier for foreign viewers to understand and appreciate this film for what it is.
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