Prospect (2018) — Rival prospectors band together to strike it rich

“That’s the fringe, girl. If you are one to point fingers at extortion well, there’s not much I can say.”

Justin’s rating: I want one of those spacesuits for Halloween next year

Justin’s review: I’m more or less an equal opportunity reviewer, but if you had to pin me down about my favorite genre, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you “scifi.” Specifically, scifi with spaceships, alien planets, cool tech, and cooler ideas. If it’s been too long since I’ve enjoyed something along this line — in books, movies, or TV — I need to find at least one that’ll satisfy. This drove me to 2018’s Prospect, a little indie scifi movie that’s been building a great reputation since its release.

On the last pass of a giant starship around a poisonous green moon, father Damon (Jay Duplass) and daughter Cee (Sophie Thatcher) take a drop ship down to the surface for a time-limited prospecting run. Damon’s driven to find the goods at all costs, but Cee is clearly more cautious and concerned the more he drags her into this quest.

Things go south when the two bump into other prospectors who clearly aren’t a live-and-let-dig type. But when Damon and one of the other men are killed, Cee ends up in a tenuous alliance with the underhanded and wordy Ezra (The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal). Stranded together, they work to pursue the motherload, outwit some mercenaries, and get off the planet in time to make it home.

Transplanting a ruthless gold rush onto an alien world is a great idea, taking something old and making it new and interesting. The filmmakers shot in the Hoh Rainforest on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, a place that certainly looks otherworldly in an overly lush way. And the gear, instead of looking slick, often comes across as what spacemen might buy at Walmart: functional but not always the highest quality. Believable. Relatable. I liked it.

Ezra and Cee may lack trust, but their common situation and a sliver of goodness in both help them work in the same direction. Cee’s coming from a place of immaturity and perhaps deep resolve, while Ezra is a slippery eel, a born opportunist, and a weary soul. He reminded me a whole lot of Firefly’s Mal, especially in the way he drawls overly wordy mini-speeches in olden slang. But trust does bloom between them, thanks to Ezra being more good than he lets on and Cee being a quiet romantic at heart.

It felt like I was handed something precious with Prospect, a movie that’s so much its own thing that you can’t confuse it for anything else. From the immersive sound design to the unlikely relationship forged between the two main characters across an alien world, I feel comfortable giving this a strong recommendation.

Didja notice?

  • That’s not the kind of music I’d expect at the start of a scifi movie
  • Shoot first, negotiate later
  • This girl is a little TOO okay with amputation

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