You’ll only be a few minutes into Prospect before you find yourself thinking: why don’t we have more films like this? “Retro” in genre so often means synth-heavy slashers, neon-lit nightmares or chuckle-heavy spoofs of no-budget apocalypses, but every once in a while we get a loving tribute to the gloriously practical sci-fi movies of the late ’70s and ’80s. Possibly the biggest factor in the dearth of “films like this” is the amount of time and care it takes to pull something like it off, and the attention to detail that writer-directors Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl have put in pays off in spades.
The film begins as father and daughter mining team Damon (Transparent’s Jay Duplass) and Cee (Sophie Thatcher) head down to a remote abandoned alien moon looking for their biggest ever score. The catch is that there’s a ticking clock situation. If they don’t make it to the pick-up point in time, their ride home is gone. Trouble enough for sure, but when they bump into a pair of scavengers led by the verbose but evidently deadly Ezra (Pedro Pascal), things get ugly quickly. Now, Cee is alone on a dangerous alien world with time running out to find her way to safety.
Prospect really does offer a fantastically realised world. From the way in which Damon and Cee’s shuttle is so functional it barely functions to the personal items she finds at an abandoned prayer tent, right down to the wonderfully designed spacesuits and helmets, everything here helps to immerse you in the film. Credit must also go to the beautifully lush location, which is given just enough alien to make it feel alien.
And while Duplass gives his desperate family man enough greed and irascibility to make him interesting and Pascal has an enormous amount of fun with his blend of Jeff Bridges and Mal Reynolds, Sophie Thatcher anchors the whole thing with an excellent lead performance. There’s also a great supporting cast of familiar faces playing survivors with uncertain moral compasses, including Andre Royo, Anwan Glover and Sheila Vand.
It does drag its feet a little in the mid-section, but there’s more than enough detail and heart to keep your attention and the final act is nail-biting. Prospect deserves to find a cult audience and it’s well worth taking a chance on.