Saturday, September 01, 2018

The Beyond (2017)

Many movies have some sort of reveal.  It serves as a way to resolve the tension.  With mystery, you find out who did it, usually in the final moments.  With horror, there may be a similar moment where you realize why the villain is so bad.  Even with a drama, there’s some sort of resolution.  Maybe the protagonist gets what they were after.  Such things are easy to define.

Not so much with The Beyond.  There is a well-defined threat: A wormhole appears not to far from Earth.  It’s like the roach trap, where probes check in, but they don’t check out.  They stop transmitting shortly after they cross the threshold, providing very little information.  Cue the fear and panic among those that know.  The military starts shooting at smaller voids.

Thus, a manned mission is devised wherein those participating are given robotic bodies.  The technology is so secret that participants have to have their deaths faked.   The original plan is to send two scientists.  When the launch comes, one scientist is sent with a soldier.  Only the scientist returns, providing some information.  The only message seems to be from another lost scientist, saying not to worry.

The movie is set up like a documentary, much like Europa Report.  It’s filled with footage of the principal characters going about their business and explaining what’s going on.  We get a lot of slow buildup leading to a climax that’s not much of a climax.  I didn’t even really feel like there was any actual danger to Earth.  I never felt like there was going to be some big threat.  Although there does seem to be a purpose to the events, we never get to see the intelligence behind anything.

I could see this as being the start of several similar movies or the pilot for a TV show.  It has an interesting premise that’s not really utilized.  Everything is very simple and scaled back.  In fact, the space agency is simply called The Space Agency.  There’s no reference to a specific agency, such as the ESA or NASA.  Similarly, the military doesn’t seem to be any particular branch of service nor is any specific country mentioned.  The Void would concern the entire planet.  I don’t recall much talk of various countries pitching in.  Maybe we’re supposed to assume that they are.

The 103-minute running time becomes a major disadvantage.  I’d understand if someone didn’t make it all the way through.  If you do stop midway, you’re not really missing anything.  In fact, this is one of the few cases where spoilers might be advantageous.  You can infer the message without wasting the time.

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