If the production design of the modest-budget space thriller “3022” is particularly impressive — an underlit space station of worn gear, lived-in living spaces and a touch of grime — that’s no accident. David Dean Ebert, art director on TV’s “Gotham,” knows his stuff.
And cinematographer Will Stone’s work here is a lot more impressive than it was in the daft “Faith Based” indie comedy.
Yes, their work won’t be seen by many, although with much of the world in isolation, “3022” will lure a few eyeballs via Netflix. They’ll see an impressive looking, glum, gloomy and stumbling space opera of the “tragic opera” genre.
It’s a “Something happened,” “We could be doomed” and “Is it a life worth living?” sci-fi tale about a space station cut off from Earth and everywhere else, with a handful of survivors going mad and/or dying as they try to grapple with that.
Yeah, hard to get happy after this one.
Omar Epps plays the captain in charge of Pangea, a mid-space refueling station between Earth and a Europa terraforming/colony-building project.
Kate Walsh, Miranda Cosgrove and Angus MacFadyen play the other members of a crew committed to ten year service their. The opening credits show their arrival, but we pick up the story five years in. They’re starting to lose it. Some of them, anyway.
Capt. John Laine is having night terrors. Jackie (Walsh), who has become his bedmate over the course of this mission, is on the receiving end of his sleep-violence. A single mom who left a daughter behind on Earth for this 10 year gig, she loses it when the doctor (MacFadyen) pronounces that since Capt. Laine (Epps) is “unfit,” they’re all unfit and have to summon a relief ship from Earth.
It never gets there. Something — some explosive “event” — cuts them off from contact with Earth. Oddly, for a “refueling” station, there is no traffic en route or out bound, to reach.
And we hear no talk of the colony under construction either. Nobody tries to call Europa. Pangea can’t reach “home” and that’s that.
An odd twist in the script — seeing John (above) clean-shaven as the crew tries to cope with calamities, death, “visitors” — alternating with John as a 60 year old version of Omar Epps — grey haired and bearded.
This framing device can fool you into wondering if Mr. Night Terrors isn’t hallucinating/”dreaming” everything that goes wrong, and then right and then further wrong.
It isn’t. Don’t be thrown by that. The screenplay doesn’t show that much imagination, and admittedly, that tired direction wouldn’t have been a blessing either.
MacFadyen has the chewiest role and his performance reflects that, the only one to truly stand out.
Conflict, suicide, minimal technical “work the problem” trouble-shooting — “3022” (That ISN’T the date this takes place.) feels like a generic, quick-and-dirty if claustrophobic, deep space thriller that could a little more light.
Not in the cinematography or production design, though. That is first-rate. Well, first-rate on a budget.
MPAA Rating: R for language and some violence
Cast: Omar Epps, Kate Walsh, Miranda Cosgrove, Jorja Fox and Angus MacFadyen
Credits: Directed by John Suits, script by Ryan Binaco.8 A Saban Films release, on Netflix.
Running time: 1:31