'SETTLERS' - THE GRIPPING SCI-FI DEBUT TOUCHES DOWN IN THE UK & IRELAND
SOFIA BOUTELLA AND JONNY LEE MILLER STAR IN MARS THRILLER 'SETTLERS'
Following an ecological disaster on Earth, a family eke out an existence on a desolate Martian homestead. Reza (Jonny Lee Miller) and his wife Ilsa (Sofia Boutella), do their best to protect nine-year-old daughter Remmy (Brooklynn Prince) from the dangers of the surrounding landscape. But when hostile outsiders appear in the nearby hills, Remmy becomes aware of the disturbing reality of her situation, that her parents have shielded her from all this time. She is taken hostage by the outsider, Jerry (Ismael Cruz Córdova), and as time goes by, the probability of escape for Remmy (now played by Nell Tiger Free) grows increasingly remote, while Jerry’s intentions grow more and more sinister.
Settlers was billed as A Quiet Place meets The Martian. Those films are much higher budget movies that are perhaps outside of the reach of this otherworldly offering... but that's not to say that Settlers doesn't have anything new or interesting to offer. It is in fact an intelligent and at times gripping story of what it would be like to settle on a new, unforgiving planet.
And it has a stellar cast... Sofia Boutella - her breakout role in Kingsman: The Secret Service really impressed. And her turn in Star Trek Beyond stole scenes from the regular cast members. Here she proves her worth and shows us her range of acting abilities.
Throw Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary, Trainspotting, The Crown) into the mix and you have a real headline star... anyone who saw his duel roles in the National Theatre live production of Frankenstein will know of his brilliance as an actor. Here he channels a worried but resolute father desperate to save his child and his family.
The supporting cast are less well known including Nell Tiger Free (Game of Thrones), Ismael Cruz Cordova (The Undoing), and Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) but they still do well in their respective roles, especially Nell Tiger Free, who really impresses in a challenging role.
The pacing might feel too slow at times and perhaps this creates lag where there should be excitement or tension. Occasionally no one speaking for what seems like an eternity. I think at one hour and 45 minutes this film could be cut by at least 15 minutes, which would have made it slicker.
There are elements of the film that are good, for example there are moments when the film is undeniably visually appealling (yet at the same time desolate and bleak) and the director's ability to create tension is impressive.
Settlers is a slow burner that is more about creating an amospheric, (sometimes frightening and even eerie feel) rather than the the sort of movie that has big set pieces, explosions or battles. There's no scary alien monster, or ridiculously large guns, just a small family trying to survive the difficulties of being the first settlers on a barren planet, where the fear of isolation and other humans are the most deadly threat.