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