You’re not going to confuse “Solis” with “Solaris” or “Sunshine,” but its effects are at least as good as in most of the space epics that involve somebody in some spaceship or other getting too close to the sun.
And the story — sole survivor of an asteroid mining accident struggles to stay alive until a rescue ship shows up — has promise.
But that absolute bottom-line must-have element to make your thriller work is somewhat lacking in writer-director Carl Strathie’s sci-fi tale — urgency. Everything else depends on that, and even though we hear the sounds of ticking (how analog) periodically on the soundtrack, this “time is running out” saga never picks up speed beyond “dawdling.”
Steven Ogg, best known as a voice-over and motion capture actor for video games like “Grand Theft Auto V,” is the star of this “one-hander.” His Troy Holloway is the only guy in the shot, first scene to last, in “Solis.”
No, we’re not counting the corpse of a colleague strapped in next to him.
He’s in a tiny pod in the vastness of space, has a black eye and wakes up with a headache and the realization that surviving the accident that put him in this escape pod might not have been the best thing to happen today.
“This is Troy Holloway, in the blind. Does anyone copy? Harris is dead…Milton…”
Drifting in a capsule with flickering lights, steam, occasional showers of sparks, alarms going off here and there, with limited power and no control, he’s a goner.
Wait! Help is on the way and on the radio. She’s got a British accent (Alice Lowe). She’s filling in for “the commander,” and she’s not good at calming an irate and profanely panic-stricken Holloway down.
What are your coordinates?
“I don’t HAVE any coordinates!”
Tell me what you see.
Commander Roberts declares, “My orders are to keep you alive! Are you concussed? Yes or no? Do you feel nauseous?”
“No more than usual.”
Forget about the agony of burning up in the sun, which Holloway is drifting towards.
“The pain and comfort will get worse. You will be dead from hypothermia in no time. We’re coming from you. 75 minutes!”
And she means it. The clock is ticking down, even if the movie feels as if everything’s on pause until the BIG FINISH.
First-time feature director Strathie ensures that the ship has lived-in, functional looking interiors and a plausible outer shell. The digital sun here is most impressive, but his movie’s best effects might be the simplest — canting or tilting the camera in what filmmakers call “Dutch Angles,” disorienting the viewer with Holloway upside down.
Ogg has to play this guy as a man resigned to his fate, which really lessens that “urgency” thing. He’s got to be talked into taking every step to possibly save his neck.
There’s self-surgery and of course an EVA (spacewalk) and a lot of arguing with Commander Roberts on the radio.
The dramatic possibilities are severely limited. No “Gravity” flashbacks, just a somewhat murky series of motivations for living provided in confessional moments and bursts of repetitive action are all that drive “Solis.”
Like the pod Holloway is trapped in, the movie’s mostly just adrift — limited power, with time running out. Not fast enough, it turns out.
MPAA Rating: unrated, bloody injuries, profanity
Cast: Steven Ogg, Alice Lowe
Credits: Written and directed by Carl Strathie. A Blue Fox release.
Running time: 1:30