Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Approaching the Unknown

Approaching the Unknown
Mark Strong, and Sannaa Lathan

Rated: R for language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: June 2, 2016 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation

Not as exciting or poignant as Gravity or The Martian is this latest esoteric small-scaled sci-fi/fantasy from Mark Elijah Rosenberg also available in the on-demand format.

It might have some of the saturnine, contemplative aura of Moon or Solaris on a very tight budget which includes cramped sets for its primary character - a biologist and astronaut one Capt. William D. Stanforth (London's accomplished film and television thespian Mark Strong, from The Brothers Grimsby as well as The Imitation Game).

Strong acquits himself well (less mad than his Icarus 1 Pinkerton in Danny Boyle's Sunshine) in volunteering on what turns out to be a treacherous 270 day mission to the testy Red Planet even if Stanforth's many voice-overs are of a monotonous nature. Rosenberg in his 'infinite wisdom' crafts more of a psychological drama using flashbacks and a stop-over at a space-station. Sanaa Lathan's Capt. Emily Maddox is not far behind Stanforth with supplies on a presumed colonization with a special hydrating generator for use on the surface.

In the way the 'one-man show" is presented with a more polished production than expected given almost space shuttle/Hubble telescope type interiors, Approaching can't quite overcome intrinsic genre tropes to captivate with enough incisive introspection. But, given what's confronting him albeit an impending fiasco, Strong educes a quietly charismatic wounded, yet steadfast individual. Some Skype-like support is offered by Luke Wilson as Mission Control's 'Skinny' as well as Anders Danielson Lie's Greenstreet and Charles Baker's Capt. Worsely as two orbiting disillusioned inhabitants.

In reaching The Unknown Rosenberg shows more promise behind the camera than crafting a glimmering, truly humanistic tale which really doesn't parallel Ridley Scott's more sweeping and successful pairing with Matt Damon even as survival becomes crucial and challenging even for those with much scientific acuity. A minimalist, interpretative approach may be ultimately more familiar to a much less melodramatic, gratifying effect. In spite of a deliberate valuation not to abort intimate observation while effectively remaining less earthbound

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Matt Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Approaching the Unknown        C+                     C+ 

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