Stowaway dropped this morning on Netflix and I was right there ready to watch it. All I have to say is…
Ok, so that’s not ALL I have to say, but that’s basically my takeaway from Stowaway. (Which is sort of hard to type actually.)
If you watched the trailer, you already know the story. There’s a mars mission with a crew of 3 on board. You’ve got mission commander Barnett (Toni Collette), Doctor Zoe (Anna Kendrick), Researcher David (Daniel Dae Kim) and….. the “Stowaway” Michael (Shamier Anderson).
Michael apparently got knocked out or something during the launch prep, and then buttoned up inside one of the panels. How this would actually happen in reality I honestly don’t know. I mean, did he button that panel back up himself? I have a lot of questions here. Well, and not just about this particular plot point. Which, I mean, seems rather important, don’t you think?
So now their Mars mission, on board a craft originally designed for two, now officially three, and now another plus one… obviously there’s gonna be some problems. The first being that they find Michael in one of the CO2 scrubbers…. Well, I guess its like the ONLY scrubber, and they don’t have any redundant systems or backups or spare parts…
Who exactly planned this mission, anyway? I would think that a super critical part like that which I dunno keeps the crew alive, would maybe have some functional backups, a spare module in a drawer, you know, “just in case” something like this happens, right? Nooooo.
Then there’s the ship itself. I have a lot of problems with this ship’s design, its layout, the mechanics of how its supposed to work, etc. And most importantly, with whoever greenlighted the fact that they are not oriented correctly inside the ship for the rotation that provides the “gravity”…. You see them looking out a window at the Earth as its getting smaller and smaller (but still visible after weeks…. hey, gonna nitpick this too and say its probably not still visible but what do I know…) If you watch how they’re rotating, it makes no sense at all. Their heads should be pointed up towards the center of rotation, not askew pointed away from it…. Unless I’m really missing something important about how rotational mechanics, centrifugal force, etc. work.
They kinda sorta get it right when they cross “the tether” all the way across to the other side of this ship, which is basically two capsules rotating around a center solar array. But, there are still a lot of problems here.
You can about guess the rest. Not enough resources to keep everyone alive, oh no what do we do, I guess someone’s gonna have to die, no not like that, wait I’ll go…. sigh. All so predictable, and honestly in light of the engineering and physics issues it was just like “bah alright, lets just do this.”
But they completely MISS an opportunity and I have no idea why they didn’t run with it. At one point its revealed that Michael is an engineer on the mission prep crew, right? And he demonstrates some pretty intricate knowledge of the ship. “oh this part was redesigned for X mission and this was done, this left out, etc.”
Hey, maybe, just maybe we make it so Michael will go “hey what about X?” And everyone looks at him like he’s crazy, and he explains that “Subsystem Y got overhauled last year and it actually does X but isn’t listed as such because safety concerns, or some other science fact that helps us eat and breathe and stuff”
“Whoa! Cool!” and they come together and save the day, their lives, and the mission.
Noooooooo. Of course not. Nope.
Bottom line: If you’re willing to stop thinking critically and scientifically about your scifi (and I’ll admit I do it more than I should) then maybe you’ll enjoy it. I was immediately obsessed with the rotational mechanics and spent the rest of the movie yelling every time they looked out the window at the wrong angle.
OH, and then there’s the “ZOMG ALARMS INCOMING CME!!” thing. A CME or coronal mass ejection, is exactly what it sounds like. The sun spits out a big glob of particles into space. But here’s the thing: Those particles don’t travel at the speed of light, but rather a lot slower. Yes, there’s a radiation burst that comes before that and yeah that moves at light speed, obviously. But the actual *mass* (which duh can’t move at light speed) takes significantly longer. It would be more like “CME Alarm! You have several hours if not longer to prepare! oh no!” But yeah, there would be a radiation surge before that, so maybe its just a case of not doing the research, I dunno. Just another science gripe in a scifi pic.
I talked about the concept of “suspension of disbelief” back when I reviewed The Midnight Sky. Same thing. If you’re going to go down the “hey lookit me I’m all STEMMY and stuff!” then at least GET IT RIGHT.
Hey, you’re gonna put it up there, I’m gonna call you on it.
But that’s just me.
The ending is completely predictable, and 100% unnecessary, too. See my rant about CME’s above. Didn’t have to go down like this. None of it did.
So, Stowaway, you get a paltry 2.6 out of 5. Sorry but I just can’t.
I mean, I could have gone lower, but honestly there’s a lot of good drama here, some good performances, and decent effects apart from the glaring problems.