You know, when I started this website I didn’t fully appreciate that trying to make this my job would mean watching movies in the middle of the day. If I had thought about it I would have considered it a major job perk, but initially I just needed a reason to do anything in the pandemic times. I honestly thought I would have enough rants stored in my brain to fill a website without actually having to do any work. But alas, things in life require work. And it’s for you, dear readers, that I sit on my couch at two in the afternoon and cruise through what’s trending on Netflix. Because this is my job now. My super fun, super doesn’t pay, job. You may have noticed, a donation button has been added to the site. No pressure! It’s just in case you have the means and inclination to support a struggling artist. I’m considering making some subscriber content as well, so stay tuned!
I’m feeling a bit curmudgeonly today, maybe its the grey skies or the fact that I just planted some berry bushes in the yard and then it started snowing (second winter is literally the worst). Maybe it’s that my gremlin of a cat kept me awake for an hour at early dawn because the sun was up so why wasn’t I? I am eternally grateful that I went with a cat instead of human children when I started to get that mothering itch. I’m pretty sure that waking up to a crying human baby in the night and screaming “I WILL END YOU” is not acceptable. Neither is threatening to let them outside so the coyotes can have them. Both of those comments were hurled at my cat as he scratched at the door on and off for an hour as the sun slowly crept into the world.
Speaking of the gremlin (at length, apparently), yesterday our new television arrived. The television that we bought after Inman knocked over the other one. It’s a bit of an upgrade from the ten year old TV that Edward bought in college, it’s larger and has something called 4K which I don’t understand, but we watched half an episode of Tiny Creatures last night on Netflix and WOW was I really invested in the happenings of that kangaroo rat. Seriously, Tiny Creatures is jaw dropping, with heart pounding narratives. I don’t know if it was the 4K or the scripted and edited videos that gave a poor Kangaroo Rat the worst day of his life. I wanted to be similarly impressed today, so I thought a nice space movie would be the ticket. Some space movies are good, some are horrible, but almost all of them have insane cinematography. So it was a no brainer when I saw the newly released Stowaway. I thought “It’s less than two hours, I can check out whatever the hell 4K is, and it will probably look pretty good.”
Wrong. Wrong on all counts. This was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. It was like Sunshine and Gravity had a baby and it inherited the worst traits of both parents. The movie opens with a rocket launching into space, with David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim) and Zoe Levinson (Anna Kendrick) looking like they’re about to shit their pants while Marina Barnett (Toni Collette) guides their rocket into space. Seriously, Kim and Kendrick couldn’t have been more classically naïve if they were actually trying. I have seen both of them in other projects and loved them, so I was floored that they seemed to be phoning it in for this one.
Their rocket attaches to a space station and the cast moves into their new home (using suitcases that look like they’re made from Scary Spice’s jacket) settling in for a two year mission to Mars. The viewers find out that Kim and Levinson are scientists that applied for a mission to Mars for research purposes through an organization called “Hyperion”, a company with a name so generically futuristic that it’s almost as if the writers ran it through an online generator. Kim is a botanist (first but not only Martian copy cat move) and Levinson is a medical doctor whose research is never really defined. Barnett is the only professional astronaut on board, though she and the two scientists have been training together for several years.
The main plot point is – can you guess? – they have a stowaway. One of the launch engineers, Michael Adams (Shamier Anderson), somehow got stuck in the ship and ended up going through the launch in a small compartment. This is where the movie asks for a gigantic leap in suspension of disbelief.
- This man had no safety gear and was stuck in a compartment with sharp metal edges through a launch that the movie made sure to demonstrate as brutal, and we’re just supposed to accept that he didn’t die.
- His injuries were easily treated with a few stitches. He woke up several hours later and appeared to not receive any medications or antibiotics (beyond a spray directly on the wound) and he is capable of walking as soon as he’s awake.
- He cannot tell the crew how he got stuck on board. Dr. Levinson says that’s normal, he probably had a concussion. This is never explained.
What follows is ninety minutes of my life that I will never get back. I usually watch things I review at least twice. Once through, and a second time in the background while I write about it. Not this time, as soon as I was free I put Tiny Creatures back on to lift my spirits. I assumed that with the flakey story behind Michael’s presence on the ship, it would turn out to be some kind of psychological thriller – maybe he was hiding away on purpose because he really really wanted to go to Mars. Maybe the brain trust behind Hyperion are some sick bastards and they set up the scenario to see how the crew would react. I was eagerly awaiting a drastic reveal that never came. The main conflict is that Michael was trapped in a compartment that had a carbon dioxide scrubber and it was damaged when Barnett removed him from the compartment. Without this piece of equipment, they only have enough oxygen for three people to make it to mars. Barnett, in a calm capitanly manner, decides that the three people who trained for this mission are the ones that get to breathe the limited oxygen. Michael has to die.
Anna Kendrick, playing Anna Kendrick as a space doctor, refuses to accept that he has to die. She won’t agree to kill him or even tell him about the situation. She insists on ten days to figure something out that will save them all. During this time, another situation takes away one more person worth of oxygen. This leads Kim to tell Michael that he’s expected to die, and he expresses an odd series of emotions that isn’t really believable as “man fights his natural instinct to survive”. Levinson sees his struggle and she schemes a plan: to traverse the cables keeping the station attached to the ship, which spin to create gravity on the station, in order to get oxygen that was left over from launch. Anna Kendrick Space Doctor and the abusive husband from Lost go on the dangerous mission to get two tanks of oxygen to bring back. While the second tank is filling, a solar storm begins and they have to rush back. No problem, they still have oxygen for one person. They’re back to their original problem. But PSYCH they drop the tank and it flies into space.
Now, the way that I described that was both more entertaining and suspenseful than the actual movie (and a hell of a lot more succinct). I was more interested in the Kangaroo Rat’s story on Tiny Creatures than I was when Kendrick and Kim are doing life defying space stunts. When they get back to the safety of the station, the crew is in the same position they were in before – just enough oxygen for two and a lethal solar storm raging outside. Levinson decides that she’s going to go into the storm, she’s going to sacrifice herself to get the other tank of oxygen they had to leave behind, and the three others can go to Mars. I should have been crying, I cry at everything – Grey’s Anatomy, Coca Cola commercials – but I wasn’t even moved. While Levinson sat down and waited to die, I was so bored that I started texting my sister (her lizard, Mustang, was getting a bath and there were pictures). Basically, I was more enthralled with Tiny Creatures than I was about this movie.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Anna Kendrick, but whenever I see her step into a more dramatic role but still bring her classic Kendrick style, I can’t help but be bitter that she’s allowed to do that and be popular but yet Kristin Stewart gets dragged across the coals in polite society whenever we feel like it. There are some actors that are incapable of disappearing into their roles, Stewart and Kendrick are two of those (along with Morgan Freeman…see? having this quality does not make them bad actors, it’s just facts). It seems to me that society lets Anna Kendrick get away with always being herself because she’s more palatable, she’s the quirky funny girl next door. Kristin Stewart doesn’t fit the mold, so she’s crucified. I may have just been listening to a podcast that ripped Kristin a new one so the injustice is fresh on my mind.
These are the kinds of things I thought to myself as I watched what is arguably one of the worst space movies of all time (though Gravity could be a contender). The plot was full of holes, the viewers were asked to believe way more than the movie supported, the world building was awful and none of the acting was believable. At some point I started to look at Collette and think about how if I didn’t think too hard, she gave off Jessica Chastain in The Martian vibes. If there is one thing I hate more than anything else, it’s a movie that capitalizes on another movie’s popularity. Like the Charlie Bone books, a series written by Jenny Nimmo that copied Harry Potter almost point for point. It’s just a garbage copy, flimsier than the cast that Kendrick’s character 3D printed in the movie.
This movie was a flop from start to finish, I had hopes for it when I thought there would be a twist to how Michael ended up on the ship, but the writers left that story completely untapped. Without a reveal like that, it just seems like the writers thought “eh, we don’t have to explain how he got there. Him being on the ship is the movie, right?” That was a big leap, a suspension of disbelief that I could not achieve. Combined with a cast that had zero chemistry with each other, I realized why I haven’t seen a space movie since The Martian – I hate space movies.