• Review: Somnus (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Fri Sep 23 00:03:20 2016
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    Warning: SPOILERS

    CAPSULE: A commercial spaceship from the year 2252 runs
    into technical problems followed by the ship's computer
    guidance system trying to kill the crew, an idea perhaps
    borrowed from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The problems on
    board cause the ship to divert to the asteroid Somnus.
    There they find a cult whose believers are implementing
    a plan to take control after the Earth's coming
    destruction. Sorry, that makes the film seem better
    than it really is. It is a stylistic mess, almost
    impenetrable that seems to borrow a lot and not give
    very much in return. A good science fiction story can
    be told without a lot of computer effects, but this film
    shows how not to try it. Newcomer Chris Reading directs
    a script he co-wrote with Russell Owen, but neither seem
    to have much relevant to say. Rating: -1 (-4 to +4) or 3/10

    SOMNUS (the name means sleep, not too inappropriately) is a science
    fiction film that tries to communicate its story with a minimum of
    words and with relatively crude visual images. The story is told
    in three chapters. The first takes place in 1952 and sets the tone
    for the confusion to come. In 2252 a space cruiser has serious
    problems with its guidance system, Meryl (voiced conveniently by
    Meryl Griffiths), decides to kill the crew on the ship. The third
    chapter takes place on the asteroid Somnus and involves the long-
    term life of planet Earth.

    The film began with that incident in 1952 England involving a
    professor who gets on a train without a document he intended to
    carry. Flash forward 300 years and the crew is in space. How will
    the missing document connect with whatever is happening three
    centuries later? Somebody forgot to put it in the script. It is
    just a loose end the size of a planet. Then again maybe it does
    connect up, since we never really understand what is happening in
    the 23rd century, so it could connect up somehow.

    SOMNUS mostly comes off as an attempt to copy DARK STAR (albeit
    without the humor). There are also parts of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY,
    and bits imitate Andrei Tarkovsky's style. It has no CGI and
    almost no effects of any kind. Much of the film we have the actors
    in a spaceship most of whose sets look like they were cobbled from
    parts found in an electronic junkyard. While the film takes place
    in a year something like 2252, the electronic equipment we see
    looks very 20th Century.

    When the filmmakers want to add some visual interest they do things
    like use starscapes and maybe stock footage of sea life. Most of
    the story is carried by short talking interludes embedded in long
    sections of silence. The main action is not shown on screen.
    There are lots of long takes with no payoff. Most of the action
    that would lead to visual excitement happens off-stage.

    We see some nice lush space-scapes, but then we knew the ship was
    in space. We also get some nice stock footage of jellyfish. How
    does this image connect up with our story? I don't know. Maybe
    the jellyfish have the missing document. At 83 minutes this film
    is short and at the same time seems way too long.

    While some of the sky scenery seems polished, that is about the
    only thing about this film that looks accomplished. I rate SONUS a
    -1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 3/10.

    SOMNUS had a small theatrical release on September 9th and will go
    to digital platforms on October 4th.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

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