Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go [Review: Prospect]

In what may be possibly the most unwise Bring Your Child To Work Day ever, astronaut and prospector Damon (Jay Duplass) and his teenage daughter Cee (Sophie Thatcher) land on an alien planet looking for treasure - naturally-occurring gemstones that must be harvested delicately from an underground lifeform. They only have three days before the mothership leaves the system for ever, so when they successfully recover a gem Cee wants to rush back to their shuttle but Damon insists on searching for a larger cache. The father-daughter team are not alone on the planet - there are also other groups of prospectors and mercenaries about, all looking to strike gold and get out in time, and not exactly committed to good sportsmanship and comradery. When they are ambushed by another pair of prospectors, Cee is left in the difficult position of having to cooperate with Ezra (Pedro Pascal), one of their attackers.

The low-key setting of Prospect is very clever - this is smart sci-fi written to wring the most from a low budget. Most of the action takes place on the planet's forested surface, there is a toxic atmosphere so everyone has to wear spacesuits and filters and use temporary shelters and tents. The futuristic touches include medical kits with spray-on wound treatments and electric scalpels, many different kinds of railgun. The creatures that grow the gems are pleasantly Cronenbergian. The end result is strangely Western-like, this is a disorganized, greedy gold rush not an organized campaign. There are no uniforms (redshirt or otherwise) each spacesuit, gun or any other piece of equipment is different.

This movie is a mixture of science fiction, Western, action thriller (Chekov's railguns go off in the third act, also the first and second), survival thriller and psychological thriller. The writers are clearly familiar with Kurt Vonnegut's Rule 6: "Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them - in order that the reader may see what they are made of." Cee in particular is challenged physically and emotionally throughout the movie with one Prisoner's Dilemma after another, and I can only say I am deeply impressed by Sophie Thatcher as an actor and look forward to seeing what she does next. Her performance alone justifies the perfect score of three stars out of five.

Score: 3 out of 5 stars

All movies reviewed on the Sci-Fi Gene blog are given a score of 3 out of 5 stars

No comments