"Prospect" (2018) Review

With an ever-increasing access to technology and other necessary filmmaking tools, the opportunities are more expansive than ever for independent filmmakers to put together some truly remarkable content. Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell began their professional collaboration in Seattle on commercials and shorts, and their first feature-length film "Prospect" has landed Hollywood star Pedro Pascal in a starring role and made the jump from independent circulation to a larger theatrical release. This film is an exciting depiction of humanity's fundamental need to survive layered into the sci-fi genre staple of space exploration.

"Prospect" introduces viewers to a world that gradually reveals how distinct and unique it is over the course of the story. The most meticulous attention to detail on the part of the filmmakers is essential to the world-building, be it specks of dust added in post-production to all the exterior shots for an unknown planet or finding obscure music for the soundtrack to make the universe feel all the more unique to a contemporary, largely North American audience. On this planet that the lead characters are exploring, the environment is incompatible with human biology. This requires them to walk the planet wearing special space suits complete with helmets. The substantial amount of dialogue recorded in the tightly enclosed space of these helmets serves the tension of the story well, as the characters spiral down an increasingly dire set of circumstances.

Sophie Thatcher portrays Cee, the film's young protagonist that is exploring space alongside her father. Thatcher brings a level of maturity to the role that keeps the performance grounded, an entirely necessary aspect when holding her own in scenes with Pedro Pascal. It would be a waste to spoil anything too descriptive about the plot or characters for first-time viewers. But what's particularly impressive is how comfortable the film's pacing ebbs and flows without all the over-produced quick-cut content that has become increasingly prevalent in the content put out by many major studios. The fact that "Prospect" is an independent film is an essential component to why it has such range, from the fast pace of running through an unknown planet from an impending threat to the stillness of two characters alone having a conversation that brings out new revelations.

It's entirely evident that the film's compelling and gritty survivalist theme is made all the more impactful by the filmmakers' D.I.Y. approach to such an ambitious project. Earl and Caldwell took an approach of realism that grounds their sci-fi universe, as the film was shot in the Washington forest or actual sets that were constructed, as opposed to relying on green-screens to generate all the imagery. This fosters a more tangible interaction between the characters and the elements and props around them.

If Pedro Pascal is all the reason you need to turn up to see this film, we wouldn't blame you in the slightest. Whether it's because of his power as a performer or the arc of his character, there's little doubt that he's the most memorable part of the viewing experience. But with so many details tended to, "Prospect" remains a groundbreaking standout to indie filmmaking. Don't miss it when it is released in November from Gunpowder & Sky's sci-fi label, DUST.

Watch our New York Comic Con "Prospect" press conference video with star Sophie Thatcher and filmmakers Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell here:


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