December 1, 2021

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Space Sweepers: a critique of Netflix’s space opera

Lack of a bloated, doped blockbuster with drooling CGI? Netflix took advantage of the lack of competition from theaters to distribute its nearly two-and-a-half-hour cyberpunk space opera internationally. Space Sweepers, which we owe to Jo Sung-hee and a team of special effects makers who are largely influenced by the big names in the genre, seem at first glance to be thought to make our retinas fart. And he barely failed at the task.

A group of daredevils with bleak pasts and elastic morals survives by selling the wrecks that pollute Earth’s orbit. But in their odyssey, they come across a little girl and realize that it is an android wanted by the authorities and equipped by a terrorist group with a devastating bomb. A somewhat boilerplate pitch, at least a bit boilerplate at a time when the only blockbusters aren’t Disney+ series or exclusives.

Since Space Sweepers is a completely unhindered blockbuster, it willingly assumes the VFX debauchery nesting there and the plot schemes. This film multiplies the archetype that thrives most of the time in American cinema, the villain with a big heart and small wallet who finds humanity in contact with an adorable bad boy with a nice,-but-in-fact-he-want-to-destroy-world boss. . Without ever lulling his audience to sleep with a few classic twists, but in a good dose, he prefers to focus on his treatment of space opera, a genre that has been very much alive since the return of Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Hence the success of the summoned universe, with a strong hint of cyberpunk. On top of that, all the leaders openly cite Blade Runner 2049 to Denis Villeneuve and his impressive photo of launching Earth-beats to the last patch of land. Humans who don’t live there endure hardship in the fields of destruction placed around the planet or enjoy pills in temporary Eden created by multinational heirs worthy of a start-up nation. In short, it’s Elysium without heavy social discourse.

This feature film takes good care of this dilapidated world, where dashboards look like flashing micro-cities and ships like supersonic dumps. Therefore, artistic direction is queen, especially when the narrative gives it full force, as in a nightclub scene, whose excitement will please both pixel aesthetics and dubstep music lovers.

The unfolding universe, as well as the delightful absence of trading obligations (no franchises in sight, my captain) also allow for the fulfillment of an American fantasy that is so rarely achieved: visions of a real human melting pot, where all languages ​​intersect and interact with each other thanks to translators. which is almost directly implanted in the ears of the population. Russian, German, Korean, Spanish, French (or Belgian, who knows?) and all the nationalities our expert ear has yet to identify, in a linguistic cocktail that is both utopian and dystopian fun.

The perfect breeding ground for a successful character gallery. This is the vein of war in this kind of production, where omnipresent special effects require real benchmarks. Mission accomplished, less thanks to some personal sub-plots that sometimes falter a bit than royal casting. Song Joong-ki is also slightly eaten by his camping aide by Jin Sun-kyu (seen in The Good, the Bad and the Crazy and The Outlaws), Kim Tae-Ri, whose charisma found in Mademoiselle n’ doesn’t waver, but also Richard Impossible Armitage, disguised as the mutant Mark Zuckerberg.

However, the real power of the universe developed by Space Sweepers remains fully exploiting the idea of ​​space littered with our waste, at the same time turning the contradictions of classical space operas to its advantage. As in Star Wars, Star Trek and company, everyone evolves in spectacular technological structures. Except here, the heroes are the cleaners in the back, literally space sweepers. Determined to remain in the shadow of America’s mega-production (the climax comes to the mini black star), the film of the same name begins to question their vestige.

This is the reason why the first few minutes work so well. The discovery of these economically unstable lowlands permanently threatened by orbital waste is enchanting, and promises the best for this two-hour adventure. Unfortunately, this is also a production limit, which of course features an interesting framework produced by quality CGI, but whichpreventing himself from exploiting it for a real moment of spatial boldness, concentrated at the beginning and end of the whole.

In the middle, the plot and realization avoid busy situations, embarrassing for a blockbuster that so vehemently claims its status as entertainment. The slightest pursuit deflates, the slightest fight is hampered, to the disappointment of lovers of interstellar action. It’s not that Jo Sung-hee can’t fly his camera. The chase sequences that frame the film, while very messy around the edges, prove otherwise.

Therefore, the richness of the universe being deployed and certain planes having fun in the absence of gravity can only be matched by the frustration it can cause. However, we are still looking for other films of this genre on the platform. Whatever one may say, SVoD could be the weapon that will kill America’s hegemony in the blockbuster distribution field. Final Destruction and Space Sweepers recently proved that popular Korean cinema has a voice. Netflix has plenty of means to preach its good words.