Postcards From The Future – review

July 8, 2008

The Lunar South Pole Base

I mentioned this DVD a while back, and it arrived in the mail today. It’s only about 50 minutes long, so I watched it this afternoon.

It’s a series of “video postcards” sent by Sean Everman (Everyman?), an electrical engineer sent to the near-future outpost at Luna’s south pole. He sends little video snippets to his wife and family as the construction progresses. Eventually, he moves on to the Mars outpost and then on to Titan.

Robb Hughes as Sean Everman

Director/Writer Alan Chan is a special effects guy who worked on Beowulf, Lord of the Rings, and Titanic, among other films. The panoramas and most of the effects are beautiful. Most of the blue screen is at least passable – only a couple of spots, on the lunar surface, really look fake. This is obviously a low-budget endeavor and yet the production is extremely well done. Chan does a fine job of showing what we could have, in a very short time, if we have the will. As Everman says, “It’s amazing how fast we can accomplish things when we have the right tools.”

Now the negatives. I didn’t get the feel of the grandeur and inspiration Chan was trying for. In fact, the storyline was somewhat depressing. I think a lot of that has to do with the focus on one character, with very few actors and almost no interaction between them. (There are only about four shots where more than two people are seen at the same time.) It emphasizes the loneliness of the space pioneer, but even after the lunar base is developed as shown in the image above, you never see those people. Again, cost, I know…but it makes it difficult for me to feel for the character.

Landing on Mars

He talks a lot to his wife about being away from her and missing her. He is alternately drawn back home and outward to the next stage of exploration. I’m not sure that carries through well. Most of the time he just seems sad and tired. His daughter, Caleigh, is a geologist on the first Mars expedition, and she does a better job of showing the excitement she feels for the “grand adventure.” (Kudos to young actress Cori Bright for a great job in a relatively short amount of screen time.)

Cori Bright as Caleigh Everman

And the end hangs for me. Some folks will like it; I didn’t.

For some reason, there seem to be two types of science fiction movies: those that are exciting, but lack almost all scientific basis, like Star Wars; and those that have a firm hard science base, but ultimately lack excitement, like this one.

Still, it’s a notable achievement. It’s certainly better done on a shoestring budget than the direct-to-DVD Babylon 5 film, The Lost Tales. Perhaps it will spawn others that will find a way to communicate the excitement of the exploration of space. I certainly hope so! It’s worth buying and seeing, and passing around to your friends if you want them to see what we could do if we want to. Go to http://www.postcardsfromthefuture.net/home.php to order it.

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