"Prospect" (2018): Hard science fiction FTW!

I just saw this on Blu-ray after seeing it recommended by the Wired podcast Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy. Wow! It’s SO good. The worldbuilding, the set design, the script, the acting, even the CGI they managed to afford on their limited budget…just spectacular.

It’s got 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I couldn’t find a thread here or much discussion of it in general. Has anyone here seen it?

It’s in my Netflix queue. I’m happy to hear a good review because I’m pretty sure I only ran across it in the “More Like This” section of IMDb when I was looking at some other movie.

I’ll check it out soon-ish.

Awesome. Please report back when you have seen it. :slight_smile:

Renting… now.

How? And where? I don’t see it available on Netflix when I search for it.

I see it available on Amazon tho ($9.99 buy or $3.99 rent).

It’s available to both of us folks who still subscribe to their DVD service.

It was ok. Kind of an odd cross between a character study and sci fi. Wouldn’t call it “hard” sci fi personally as the physics aren’t really addressed. Slow space travel /= hard sci fi to me, especially when the slow travel is a lynchpin of the plot.

And the reason we’re the last two subscribers is for exactly this reason: Their selection is vastly larger than the streaming service.

Luddites! I should have known… :stuck_out_tongue:

I subscribe to both types of Netflix.

If this is not hard SF, then such doesn’t exist in the movies. “Gravity” has a major development that relies on a violation of Newtonian physics. Maybe “The Martian” qualifies?

But here, you have not just sublight speed travel, but a lander that uses parachutes, and a consistent policy of keeping a sealed helmet on at all times while exposed to this alien moon’s atmosphere and toxic microorganisms. That’s something you never see, which I find very refreshing.

It’s on Netflix streaming in Canada.

There really wasn’t enough science going on for me to judge it hard sci fi, I’m not failing it because of so.e mistake. The slow space travel was a plot device - they had one shot to get back to civilization. It had a grittiness to it but that’s not what makes sci fi “hard”. It’s perfectly possible to have hard sci fi that doesn’t include parachutes or helmets for emergency landings.

Fine. Gritty sci-fi FTW then.

Rented and saw it last night. Maybe my severe back pain distracted me from the movie, but I didn’t find this to be an interesting sci-fi at all. The human drama wasn’t quite interesting to carry the movie on its own. And the sci-fi setting was just a backdrop. The gems (auralec?) appeared to be biological, and I expected the nature of the gem to be an important plot point, but unless I missed something major, it was just a mcguffin.

Auralac was the name of the creature where you find the gems, much like you find pearls in oysters. The gems aren’t a MacGuffin as we normally think of one; they’re literally gems. The main characters are prospectors who harvest gems just like Miner 49ers panned for gold. Technically speaking, gold would be the MacGuffin in a movie about 49ers, but we wouldn’t call it a MacGuffin because it’s gold, and we know why people care about gold. In Prospect, the gems are literally gemstones that the rich will pay for just like diamonds.
I loved the world building. The multiple different written languages, the custom-made deck of playing cards, the unknown music that evokes a sense of pop music, the anti-bacterial foam for treating wounds, and many other little touches like that were really on-point.

The biggest thing I liked was the “pod” our heroes first use to go down to the planet. The concept there is that it’s the U-Haul of spaceships, and Cee is even shown flipping through a (lovingly crafted and ridiculously detailed) renter info packet on how it works. As the filmmakers describe, U-Haul offers a fleet of 12- and 15-foot trucks that anyone can rent but most people probably don’t have any business driving one on the highway. Similar concept for the pod. After a storm throws them off course during the landing, and the circuits fry a little bit, Cee asks Damon what happened and he says “I don’t know.” That would be weird if it was his ship, but it makes much more sense if they’re just renting a U-Haul.

The DVD (I didn’t get the Blu-Ray) includes a 4-minute behind the scenes video (youtube) which I found really interesting. It also included a director commentary, which was okay but not great. A lot of talk about the hassle of helmet reflections (which is why movies are so quick to get the actors out of them) and using natural light. I like commentary tracks for funny behind-the-scenes anecdotes of the actors, ideally from the actors themselves. Director commentaries without actors are almost invariably super dry, and this was no exception.
For the first half of the movie I kept thinking of Prince Oberyn saying “We don’t hurt little girls in Dorne” in much the same way that every time Hugo Weaving said anything in LotR I mentally added “…Mr. Anderson” to the end of it.
Since this is the first feature for the writer/directors, after watching and enjoying it I immediately checked their upcoming projects on IMDb but the only thing they have listed is another upcoming short, so I’m not sure if they’ll get a second chance. If not, this was an excellent film for their only feature.

Agreed! Nice writeup.

I thought I had read somewhere that they were getting a series on Amazon or something?

ETA: I didn’t recognize the actor from GoT until hearing about it after the movie was over.

OK, so maybe McGuffin isn’t quite the right term, but my point is, it was merely a precious object, and nothing more. The entire movie is just an action/drama. The plot doesn’t have any sci-fi element to it. The only sci-fi aspect of it is the backdrop.

Isn’t that frequently the case?

Indeed, and when the worldbuilding is so loving and intricate, it’s the best kind of sci-fi IMO.

Still, it’s not accurate to say there is nothing sci-fi about the plot. What non-SF scenario leaves someone stranded because their U-Haul breaks down in a place where shuttle service is ending? What about the “juice”, the need for filtered air, the blasting of music into adversaries’ helmets?

Then there is the skill required to obtain the gems without ruining them.

Right, there are no stories set on Earth about a group of people who are stranded in a remote area, and must fight and/or cooperate to survive and get home.

Just cosmetic details.

To each his own, I guess. If you like action/drama stories set in exotic fictional locations, maybe it’s a good movie. I just don’t get into that. To me, a sci-fi story is about a sense of wonder, about interesting questions about the impact of science and technology on us. I didn’t really get any of that from this movie.