In an unspecified future, year domini not arrived, man has managed to colonize space. Interplanetary travel is the norm and this extra-terrestrial opening has also broadened job prospects, especially thanks to a new type of mineral known as Aurelac, precious and much requested by the various communities belonging to the so-called Confederation.
Damon (Jay Duplass) and Cee (Sophie Thactcher), father and daughter, take care of just this: the extraction of Aurelac, much more dangerous and complex than any other mineral because of a biological nature, with a clinical procedure to be followed perfectly in order not to ruin the "collected", as if it were a puffer fish with its poison.
The Green Moon, located at the Confederation Margin, is Aurelac's richest planet, and Damon and Cee decide to conclude their harvest cycle aiming for the Queen's Nest, a place full of minerals with a millionaire value. On their way through an alien forest covered with poisonous spores, however, they encounter another prospector, Ezra (Pedro Pascal), not exactly friendly and accompanied by his Number Two.
From here a series of events is unleashed that will lead our protagonists to a real struggle for survival on a planet where hostility is completely man-made.
Unity is strength
Previewed at South by Southwest Film Festival now more than two years ago, Prospect by Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell is an independent sci-fi with great emotional intensity and a solidly built atmosphere. At the Heart is a survival story set on a distant planet, and there is just nothing in the technical or artistic sense that attempts to stray from this genre track. However, science fiction is not a simple pretext to give an innovative touch to the story, because the creative effort of the authors appears strong and evident in giving a rich background to a story that formally did not even require too much.
It is enjoyed in fact a truly commendable attention to detail, of an immersive will in the world of Prospect that strikes the viewer, happy to find himself in front of a well thought-out product more or less in all its formal aspects, from screenplay to direction, deliberately repetitive, encircling and in their own way minimal but not poor scenographies, up to the interpretations of the protagonists.
It is a way of understanding science fiction clearly different from the sci-fi blockbuster: less focused on making the scene and the environment spectacular and more inclined to give humanity and credibility to the characters and the story; to let the public experience the story in its entirety, without ever departing from the main narrative track.
In fact, there are no exercises whatsoever and the survival of Cee is the exact center of Prospect, a film capable of consistently optimize both the time of silence and the moment of the dialogues.
In addition to careful direction and well-conceived writing, Prospect enjoys the extraordinary performances by Sophie Thatcher (young, smart, with features vaguely reminiscent of Lily James) and especially of Pedro Pascal, who here demonstrates his extraordinary acting talent in a role that manages to embrace in a homogeneous way all his most appreciated interpretative sensibilities, which they actively blur its personality, transform it and then identify it.
His Ezra is enemy, companion, friend, father, sage, murderer: a wonderful character with a great temperament and a fan-like disposition that conceptually it counterbalances the firmness of the staging, almost stoic in its immutability.
Earl and Caldwell's work then fishes without imitating from Alien, seems to be observing Annihilation without that push vein new weird and at times it even seems to be inspired by Dead Space, avoiding completely alien monsters and a tension typical of horror cinema. It is measured and dramatic science fiction, this of Prospect, perfect and calibrated middle ground between the two opposite sides of the gender barrier, the intellectual one and the box office one, vividly independent but smarter than other colleagues, because he is aware of his path from the opening scene to the conclusion.
A confident character that he pays the price for this tenacity only in the construction of iconic moments, actually non-existent, either because of the not-so-exciting use of the soundtrack, or because of a focus that almost clearly avoids pop in a cinematic sense.
This does not mean that the film lacks successful sequences: the confrontation between Ezra and Damon, the one between Ezra and Cee, the first excavation, the face to face with the mercenaries. It's all there, ready to impress itself in the viewer's memory avoiding gore exaggerations of series B but without ever having that extra push to aspire to Serie A.
An elastic product which never reaches its maximum degree of tension but which accumulates sufficient thrust to hit where it aims, at the speed most congenial to him, with a weight that satisfies and reaches him the desired result.