Star Rating: ★★★
Directed by: #BertonPierce
Written by: #BertonPierce
Film Review by: Thomas Jay
2015’s Adventurados is a sci-fi space tale concerning two ‘down and out‘ shuttle pilots on a particular cargo shipping mission wherein, everything goes wrong. In the process of the failed trip, Frug (Stephen Patrick Hanna) and Spyre (David Masterson) learn more about themselves and their new ship mate Dru (Gabrielle Miller).
I think the best place to start with this film is by giving some upfront acknowledgements and points of discussion. The Sci-Fi genre in modern times (lets say post 2000) has significantly deteriorated in terms of both instalments into the genre and furthermore, any outings of quality. As film has become more superhero/drama focused there is little carry over of Science Fiction DNA/conventions/Make Up, however you want to put it. That said however, I think you can chart a period starting in the early 90s, through to modern times where a few key releases in the sci-fi world were released and, from watching Pierce’s film I think it’s beyond fair to say that they had an impact. Firstly is Cowboy Bebop, the anime series mixes elements of the western into more neo science fiction tropes to craft this varied, vibrant and lived in world which is evident in the title that is subject to this review. With the various sub-plots ranging from planetary deterioration, Unions and Non-Unions and the further, inferred world of the story Adventurados really drew heavily off that series as far as I’m concerned and I think it’s guitar riff heavy soundtrack is further proof of inspiration, as the tunes do resemble, in many ways, Western themes Or leitmotifs. Further afield, Alien and Event Horizon spring to mind, they capture elements of cabin fever with success and ease and it’s recycled here into its own style but the main mirroring was Moon. For as much as Science Fiction as a genre has died out a little, Duncan Jones and Neil Blomkamp as an aside, have really made YouTube a platform for original, high concept films of that world and have experienced many a success in doing so. Jumping off from that though is the fact there is a clear audience for ‘Clone’ films and consider this to be your only spoiler warning for each of these films, so do proceed with caution.
I’d like to start firstly with some praise, the film and its independent nature had a major task with creating an effective aesthetic that could really be sold as believable and, in praise of Adventurados the films look was on par with if not better than most big budget outings in film and TV and was really a respectable, admirable standard of not elite. Set largely on a single space craft, the cinematography does a good job in selling a layout of that environment so we feel really immersed and aware of it, but also, credit to the designers - that set is impeccable. In all, the effects really added something to the title.
Thematically I was very intrigued, however I will say that it is a double-edged sword. The crux of the film relies on the planet having suffered major agricultural loss (not too distant a reality) which results in the moving of society, or at least elements of it, to outer space. Proxy of this struggle, we do spend a prolonged section of the film covering Ireland’s positioning in the situation and whilst it is supposed to humanise and ground our leading men, it struck me as pulling punches. There’s a brief monologue naming some of the nations greatest historical icons and whilst that has some purpose I feel it should’ve been fully committed to so it could really add a layer of commentary regarding Irish and British society and potentially playing that relationship into the plot and just expanding on ideas but ultimately they just missed the target, in fact, to a degree it felt like they never really took the shot. Using the clone/cloning sub-plot also adds an element or at least a possibility of some deep reaching, soul searching perspective but took another road. In fairness it did get the most it could from such a possible decision so I’ll give it a little credit but, and I say this without wanting to detract from this film but Moon covers that in such a solid way.
Returning to Adventurados I’ll touch on performance. At risk of repeating myself, it was another double-edged sword. Hanna, Masterson and Miller are responsible for carrying the film and they do a good job, to a degree. Hanna and Masterson were convincing peers, they really sell that sort of brotherly love that the script asks of them but they do overcross into the realm of overacting which I found to be very tiresome and equally disengaging. Despite landing the most minor role of the leading three, Miller, best know for her ‘Trivago’ adverts, in my eyes turned in the best performance. Sadly her character is at times an image so it can craft a darker picture of Spyre as this leering, ominous figure, when given the reigns she rises to the occasion. Playing an unknowing clone, looking back on it whilst writing this now, I better appreciate her outing. Classifying it as ”Sterile”, when watching it with the knowledge of her characters reveal, or even during that maiden viewing, as you learn that dime of information it does contextualise the previous 40-60 minutes of screen time that have involved her.
However, and I must say this, I felt there were far too many moving parts and ultimately it was a detriment. A few too many performances that are on the fringes of the film didn’t really add anything for me and if anything sort of ruined the tone. Getting bogged down by a number of sub-plots and all the issues they bring with them it was a let down considering how much I’d enjoyed prior. As for anything else I believe Miller’s Dru deserved a leading role. By giving that character a bigger fraction of the film, you not only flesh out the world to a better extent but have a deeper connection with that particular individual and it felt like a misstep to me, a blown opportunity.
In all, there is some enjoyment to be had in Adventurados, be that elements of genre greats, it’s own visual merits or just the general quality to the production. However it does fail to follow up on some of its best elements and generally mishandles some of its subplots. Somewhat undone by its own errors, at a brisk 1 hour 20, you could do a lot worse when it comes to selecting a title.
Reviewed by: #TomJay