From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Fri Mar 10 09:35:00 2017
(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)
CAPSULE: ATOMICA is a science fiction mystery set in the
near future and involving the last nuclear power plant
and two men who operate it. When its communications go
off-line an engineer is sent to restore the connection.
She finds more questions than answers. This is a
low-budget and claustrophobic film, most of which takes
place underground with a plot that develops only slowly.
Rating: high 0 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
With science fiction films these days being about superheroes, time
travel, genetic engineering and nano-technology it has been quite a
while since atomic power has been much of an attraction for a
movie. In the 1950s there were films like THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE,
THE ATOMIC KID, and THE ATOMIC CITY. Six decades later I don't
know many people whose pulse will race at the thought of a film
inspired by atomic energy. The word "atomic" just does not have
the cachet it once did.
A few years into the future there has been a large nuclear disaster
including a triple meltdown. Nuclear power is being abandoned and
one last nuclear power plant still is running, just where the
triple meltdown occurred. To convert the leaked radiation and make
it reusable energy is the purpose of this plant. When its
communications go unexpectedly offline on Christmas day the
government needs to know what is going on. They send in Abby Dixon
(played by Sarah Habel) to get the communications operating again.
She finds that two operators run the whole plant, Robinson Scott
(Dominic Monaghan) and Dr. Zek (Tom Sizemore). But Zek has left
the plant days ago and has not returned. Since this is a highly
contaminated area, Zek may well be dead from radiation or perhaps
murdered by Robinson. Robinson's behavior starts friendly but soon
becomes a little threatening. As Abby stays longer and feels not
particularly welcome she is having bad dreams, seeing herself as a
child. Abby has to find out what has happened here. Did Robinson
kill Dr. Zek? Is Zek alive somewhere and if so, what is he doing?
The film devolves into a game of "guess who is not what he
ATOMICA takes place mostly underground in cylindrical tunnels and
subterranean rooms. This adds to the claustrophobic effect without
adding much to the budget needed. (The film's original title was
DEEP BURIAL.) The wardrobe decisions are a little weird. For some
reason the men wear coveralls, but Abby wears a tight-fitting cat
suit and an aerodynamic bike-racing helmet. She does no racing.
Dominic Monaghan's character is named Robinson Scott. (Is this a
reference to TV's "I Spy?") The reactor plant in question looks a
little broken down and poorly maintained for a nuclear reactor.
Relative newcomer Dagen Merrill directs a screenplay by Kevin
Burke, Federico Fernandez-Armesto, and Adam Gyngell.
Even at a short 82 minutes this film drags with too much wait for
too little payoff. And too many questions are left apparently
unanswered or answered with mysterious visual sequences. I rate
ATOMICA a high 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10. ATOMICA will have
a limited release to theaters on March 17.