SPACE CORN: STAR MIND reviewed. – Generation P: Edward Crabtree’s blog.
Russia’s much awaited Space Adventure film arrives at last. But haven’t we seen it all somewhere before?
STAR MIND (Syesdni Razoom) had been in the offing for half a decade before it made it into the Russian cinemas on January 6th this year, doing so amidst precious little in the way of public poster campaigns or journalistic coverage (which may account for my seeing it in an almost empty cinema hall).
STAR MIND constitutes a 98-minute-long
`adventure fantasy` certified at 12+. Whilst its trailers seem to
promise a horror, it would be more accurate to view it as pure (`hard`) science
fiction laced with some thriller and action elements.
R.D Studios, who focus on the science fiction, horror and fantasy genres and who brought us Abigail (2019) are behind it.
The 38-year-old man with the
megaphone Vyacheslav Lisnevsky, who worked on the fantasy drama Eclipse
from 2017 here directs a young cast of relative unknowns.
The main protagonist, Doctor Steve Ross, is played by Egor Koreshkov. Russian television viewers will know him for his role in the series Eighties this year and he stars in the much-anticipated future world drama We due out this year. Alena Konstantinova supplies the love interest. Other players include Dmitry Frid, Alexander Kuznetsov (who sadly died before this film was released) and – it is interesting to see – a `woman of colour` in the form of Liza Martinez.
The picture, shot in the more futuristic areas of Moscow and in Charyn Canyon in Kazakhstan, represents something of a test case. We already know that Russia has the capability to roll out some credible science-fiction blockbusters because of the precedents of Inhabited Island (1 and 2) and Invasion (2020). STAR MIND however, consists of an off-world space adventure requiring even more lavish visual effects. Can Russian cinema meet this challenge?
The film opens a decade or so hence
with the Earth in the grip of an ecological virus which takes a malign toll on
the biosphere leading to plants and animals perishing and our planet becoming ever
In the midst of this, however,
strange artefacts get discovered in caves around the world. These take the form
of orbs and hail from we know not where. Doctor Ross is the man who learns how
to activate them. It appears that they function as `seeders` and are able to
make planets with oxygen and water even more able to cradle new life.
It is he who sets up Project Gemini. The mission of this is to seek out Earth’s twin planets and then terraform them using these orbs, thus finding a new habitat for humanity.
A team of men – and one Afro-Caribbean
woman -and he take a shuttle through an intergalactic wormhole set for just
such a planet.
Meanwhile, via flashbacks, we learn
that the good doctor has a complicated relationship with a woman back on Earth
who is pregnant by him (a romantic subplot which will go on to gain
The ship carries them off course and
they arrive at a planet they had not planned to – which nevertheless seems to
have the right credentials for terraforming. All the while, a slimy critter has
been a stowaway with them, hiding in the orb that they had taken on-board with
them (Because – because…whatever). This tentacled monster is now at loose in
the ship, picking off the crew, and with its own plans for the new planetary
We can see that this storyline is not
the product of a lengthy brainstorming lunch. In fact, it is a stitching
together of Interstellar (2014) and the Alien franchise (from
1979). The scriptwriters have made some attempts to put their own stamp on
things. The life-spreading orbs are a fresh creation and there is a twist
concerning the monster: it is a robot.
The iconography of STAR MIND seems all rather familiar. We have ship with chunky steel doorways and crepuscular interiors with plenty of brightly lit consoles, and a cast of uniformed young men -and one black woman (who is given to running about in her underwear – Ripley style). The new planet too is all craggy and rocky in its terrain.
The technology on show seems like an
odd clash of the current and the fantastical. The crew’s spaceship is a shuttle
much like the ones employed by NASA in the present day and it is blasted off in
a rocket also like the ones we know and are used to. Later, however the ship
enters an` interdimensional wormhole` type thing of a much more extravagant
The most jarring aspect of the film
is the fact that all the characters are known by Western names. All the signs
and computer readouts are in English too. Even the inclusion of a black woman
can be taken as an attempt to underscore the impression that this is an
American crew rather than any move towards diversity.
K.D Studios seem to be leaving
nothing to chance: they are casting their net for the widest demographic which
means the Anglosphere and having a 12+ certificate.
The problem here is that all the
production team’s grey matter seems to have been expended on the – quite
striking – visual impact of the film but at the expense of the plot and
characterization. It is like an ornate chocolate box housing mediocre chocolate.
That being said STAR MIND does retain some charms. Taken as a creature-feature it faces stiff competition from its compatriots in the form of Kola Superdeep (2020) and Sputnik (2020) and cannot even begin to compete. It does, nevertheless, feature some tense sequences: the frozen body of one of the crew slams into the window of their craft, the monster punches its way through the reinforced steel doorways and so on.
Also, while the ideas in the film may
be second-hand, these ideas are interesting and do inform the events in the
STAR MIND may not be the epic that it
promised to be. It is more of a popcorn-friendly B-movie, but is none the worse
for that. There is even something endearing in its desperation to please its
demographic. I am reminded more of the film Life (2017) more than
The Russian online feedback to its
debut seems divided. Some claim to be duly impressed by the professionalism of
its production values. They are in the minority however. There are much more
couch critics who sneer at the film’s copycat nature.
Perhaps we should not worry too much. STAR MIND has demonstrated that the Russian film industry can muster up a respectable space adventure to match anything of the kind from Hollywood. Next time they just need to make sure that everyone knows that it is Russian!