Directed by: #AndrewStMaur
In space no-one can hear you groan with disappointment; which is just as well for the crew of the Audax as this is the only sound likely to be made by anyone watching their ‘adventures’.
Disgraced Captain Kit Taylor (Vin Hawke) is the sole survivor of the ill-fated space cruiser Carrion, and although he has been cleared of any wrongdoing he has lived a lonely life of quiet shame, grounded on Earth, for the past five years. He is estranged from his ex-wife and daughter and gets by any way he can whilst trying to avoid the ire of those around him. Then one day, out of the blue, he is offered a second chance.
The chief exec of the world’s biggest multi-national conglomerate Dot Tech, Vincent McKeown (David Galbraith) is testing out a pioneering new navigation technology, run from a brain implant, that should allow any old Joe Schmo to take control of their own spaceship and fly it with ease. He has unwittingly called this integrated tech Orca (uh-oh, I think we’re gonna need a bigger budget) and believes that Kit is just the man to test it out on its maiden voyage.
Obviously things go wrong and the brain implant has some negative side-effects on Captain Kit’s already fragile state of mind. Not to give the game away, but this part of the plot then borrows heavily from other space dramas such as Solaris, Event Horizon and Moon as Kit deals with his own breakdown out in the vastness of space. The crew are no real help as they only really seem to be there to make up the numbers, and the company stooge then takes his chance to get in the way and obturate proceedings. It’s here that we find out Vincent McKeown is a Peter Weyland type of character who believes only in profit, even at the cost of human lives.
So, you might say to yourself, the plot has a good pedigree and seems to reference some of the most classic of space sci-fi; what’s wrong with that? The problem is that none of it really hangs together in the way that it should. Whereas each of the films that Audax steals from take the time to explore their themes and characters in detailed isolation, here they are all mashed together like a four year old at a kiddies pick ‘n’ mix bar picking all of their favourite sweets without ever really thinking how they’re all going to taste when shoved in their mouth all at once. It’s a gummy mess of half-chewed ideas regurgitated in chunks that just don’t coalesce.
The actors never seem to get a grip on the full story or the depths of motivation for their characters either; the script just doesn’t give them any time (or ironically space) for that. They try their best with the minimal direction they are given but all end up over-compensating instead with some ridiculously hammy performances cranked up to 11 and everyone overacting to the Nth degree. The direction is static and amateurishly placed with very little movement between characters and scenes, which at times leaves you feeling like you’re watching a high-school stage production of an old Blake’s 7 episode. It would be easy to also knock the props and special effects but for an indie-feature on an obvious shoe-string budget let’s just leave it at – they’re bad.
Audax leaves you with that unshakeable feeling of ‘What on Earth (or off Earth) was that all about?’ It has several confusing moments (avoiding the asteroid being the main culprit) and more than a few confused ideas. It becomes self-referential at one point and seems to poke fun at itself whilst simultaneously trying to be a deep, psychological space drama. You’re never quite sure where the Audax is trying to get to or why the solar system seems to be continuously littered with free floating asteroids; and why does everyone in the near future think that polo-necks are high fashion?
Sadly, Audax takes good ideas and makes them bad, turning classic sci-fi tropes into embarrassing schlock space memes, all of which means it never properly get off the ground.