I told my daughter the general plot of this movie, how it was a sci-fi/Western, space/frontier tale, and she said “hmm, that sounds like a cliche”, which is a bad sign for your film, if a 10-year-old can see the original painting behind the overlay a mile away out of the side of her eye. But what Prospect gets wrong in its recycling it gets right in its purity of genre, so the case could be argued either way, for blatant thievery or cinematic homage. What I think is inarguable is how the film succeeds at what it sets out to do, and how it could be seamlessly transported to the American West and we wouldn’t bat an eye. It works on those levels, it boasts a young rising star, and the story is solid enough to capture our imaginations, but perhaps without enough surprises waiting around corners; we know what’s coming next like we have a mirror on a stick covering all the angles.
In deep space, you work in order to pay your way, in order to eat, and you hope to one day have enough money to head out on your own, away from the loan sharks of interstellar travel and the mundane, gray existence pod living. Cee and her father Damon are prospectors, traveling on loan throughout space hoping to stumble upon a strike that will pay off their debts and set them free forever. The elusive prey; precious crystals that lie within living spore-like creatures on a forest moon that’s mostly already been stripped bare in the rush that has already come and gone. But Damon has an inside tip that the mother lode, a literal mother organism, has been found accidentally, and that he is needed to extract the gems. So down to the surface they go, where the very air is trying to kill you, treasure-hunters want what’s yours, and no one, literally no one, can be trusted.
Prospect is fine and fun and worth a shot, but it does hover around the central hub of its genre far too closely to be considered anything but ‘good’. It’s a sci-fi/Western like so many we’ve seen before, with low grade weapons, a frontier, shoot-outs, back-stabs, natives, and of course a lot of reaction without of ton of thinking. In that way it works, it honors the style, and it’s interesting enough, but those looking for a little more (or those you don’t already love this classic direction) aren’t really going to enjoy themselves. Thatcher is pretty great, maybe a star has been born, but Pascal mumbled too much, and Duplass just isn’t a good actor. The run time is short, the story is attention-grabbing, the details are original enough I guess, so there are positives if you dig a little deeper. But, on the surface, Prospect in only OK with moments of flash, not a constant bright spot that is easy to recommend.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆