I.S.S. Movie Review Rating:

Star Cast: Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, Pilou Asbaek, John Gallagher Jr., and Costa Ronin

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

I.S.S. Movie Review: This Space Thriller Does All Things Right To Make It A Fun Experience Even if It Is A Bit Forgettable in the End
I.S.S. Movie Review (Photo Credit – YouTube)

What’s Good: The actors are committed to their roles, and the director manages to maintain the tension between the characters even when we know very little about them.

What’s Bad: The film is a bit of a mess when it comes to visual composition, and as the movie ends, it feels like it cannot sustain itself in time.

Loo Break: The movie knows that its premise cannot be sustained for long, and the result is a short running time, so there are no loo breaks in this one.

Watch or Not?: If you are in the mood for a fun thriller that doesn’t overstay its welcome, then this film is a fun watch.

Language: English (with subtitles).

Available On: Theaters

Runtime: 95 Minutes.

User Rating:

There was a time when B-movies were the heart and soul of Hollywood, smaller films that were meant to accompany the bigger and more well-known projects with bigger stars and bigger budgets, and from that pool of films, there are some really hidden gems that exemplify what films truly are, and I.S.S. is one of those movies, aiming to do something beyond its means and still managing to be a fun theater experience. I.S.S. might not be the most exciting movie of the year, but it is definitely one that is worth seeing at least once.

I.S.S. Movie Review: This Space Thriller Does All Things Right To Make It A Fun Experience Even if It Is A Bit Forgettable in the End
I.S.S. Movie Review (Photo Credit – YouTube)

I.S.S. Movie Review: Script Analysis

The premise of I.S.S. hinges on a very slim piece of storytelling, one that needs to be bought by the audience immediately, or the entire film falls apart. We are introduced to a set of astronauts living in the International Space Station when suddenly their scientific journey is interrupted by a dreadful event, the end of the world, nuclear holocaust, and a message coming from Earth indicating that each astronaut should take control of the station for their respective countries. This is a great setup as it pins all these different people against each other in a very hostile environment.

When taking into account that our characters are astronauts, and most of them invest more in logic than in emotions, it feels like they should just talk things through and see if that logic overcomes the patriotic feelings. However, if that was meant to happen, then there would be no movie, and so we are thrown into a situation where everyone is afraid of the other, in that regard, the movie serves as a microcosm of today’s society, where no one trusts anyone, and everyone has their own agenda.

The story does the bare minimum to introduce characters and develop them; there is really no time for it, and the story is more interested in the resolution of the situation than how the situation is going to be resolved. There is no powerful character arc, only a message, and lots and lots of tension-inducing scenes, and for what the movie is trying to do, that is enough. I.S.S. is not trying to be a complex and deep film, and in that regard, it reminded me more of something like 2017’s Life (Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds) than anything else.

The setting and the way the movie looks might be closer to Life, but Life certainly looked better even when it comes to production values but the interactions and the mystery of how this situation gets resolved feel very much like The Thing (Kurt Russel), although the enemy this time is strictly human behavior and not an alien creature. This is both the strength and the weakness of the movie; it wants to be lean and mean and introduce the situation, but because there are no memorable characters to latch onto, the movie becomes quite forgettable in the end.

I.S.S. Movie Review: Star Performance

Ariana DeBose is our protagonist, and she definitely feels like it. She gets the most attention, and even then, we learn very little about her, confirming that the movie is more interested in the situation than in telling these characters’ journeys. It is strange to see DeBose, who is a recent Oscar winner, doing a role like this one, as more often than not, Oscar winners end up following their win with more high-profile projects. DeBose, being the protagonist, feels fresh and correct, but maybe it is only a sign of how hard it is for women of color to get main roles, even when they are Oscar award winners.

The rest of the cast feels right, but don’t get confused. Their characters are basically just plot devices, obstacles for the plot, and they represent more ideas of how we live in this day and age than actual characters that live and breathe. Gallagher feels wasted, and the same goes for Messina, who is always a delight to watch, but at the same time, it is great to see Ronin making an appearance; it feels like he should have more opportunities in the film industry.

I.S.S. Movie Review: This Space Thriller Does All Things Right To Make It A Fun Experience Even if It Is A Bit Forgettable in the End
I.S.S. Movie Review (Photo Credit – YouTube)

I.S.S. Movie Review: Direction, Music

Cowperthwaite was the director of the fantastic Blackfish, and since then, the director has been doing more work in the fictional space; however, her style from that time still remains, and I can’t help but see it in I.S.S. As the movie lacks a lot of what you would call visual composition, there are a lot of cool shots here and there but dialogue and action are all framed in this chaotic style that is closer to something like a documentary than an actual standard fiction film.

This can be seen as a negative, as the movie is not pretty to watch, but it will be a matter of taste as some people will appreciate the more raw look of the film. Meanwhile, the music by Anne Nikitin serves the movie in the standard way, enhancing the most dangerous moments, and goes into more meditated states as the story demands it. It is fine, but nothing memorable.

I.S.S. Movie Review: The Last Word

I.S.S. tries to make use of its premise to create a fun movie experience, and it succeeds at that by creating a lot of tension and executing its dreadful premise close to home. However, the character work is quite poor, and not having a proper character to latch onto might hinder the enjoyment of the movie for a lot of people. This is not a terrible movie, just a forgettable one.

I.S.S. Trailer:

I.S.S. released on 19th January 2024.

Enjoy watching more fun movies? read our Mean Girls movie review here.

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