It’s movies like Das Letzte Land AKA Final Voyage that give me hope about the future of science fiction movies. This atmospheric and immersive near-masterpiece is a testament to what can be achieved with a small budget and a lot of dedication. The opening scene with just the night sky sets the mood for the rest of the movie. This is a slow-burner with just two actors set inside an ancient, but still functioning spaceship. The style is delightfully retro and it reminded me of another great little sci-fi gem Prospect. The ship’s interior and interface are similar to those of great classics of the seventies and eighties. Alien is the first movie that comes to mind. This retro vibe seems to be quite popular these days. And for a good reason too as the aesthetics, immediately feel familiar and somehow realistic.
As you probably guessed from the title Das Letzte Land, Final Voyage is a German movie. Don’t think that this will be a problem in any way. Although I prefer to watch movies without dubbing, I checked out the English dub for this one and it was good. I don’t think it will be a spoiler when I tell you that despite the claustrophobic intro, we will venture forth. I’ll just leave at that as I want you to enjoy the story as much as I did.
Speaking of which, I have to also tell you that towards the end it kind of dissipates. Throughout the movie, there will be a lot of small mysteries and unanswered questions prompting for a grand finale. That finale did not come. You can see that they were trying to keep the attention of the viewer with something going on but that something feels far inferior compared to some other elements of the movie. Although, when you think of it, Final Voyage ended in the same fashion as it started and unfolded. Still, this chunky middle portion of the movie and weak dialogue sour the taste of an otherwise quite immersive and engaging flick.
Adem, a prisoner on a faraway and desolate planet, managed to escape his captors during a heavy storm. With guards looking all over for him, he stumbles upon a derelict spaceship obscured by layers of dirt and dust. Adem manages to get inside using the ship’s engine exhaust shaft. And just when he thought he got away, one of the guards appears. However, it seems that he isn’t too keen on bringing the prisoner back but is more interested in the state of the vessel. If only they could make it work…
If you’re not a fan of this type of movie, you might find the whole thing a bit tedious and boring. This is the first feature film for young and talented Marcel Barion who wrote, directed, and did almost everything else. As such, we can forgive the somewhat contrived story developments and flawed pacing. If he only cut the runtime to about eighty minutes instead of almost two hours, this would be a much more approachable movie. Still, it’s a very immersive and atmospheric piece of science fiction that will get space buds going again.
The scenes in the cramped cockpit are interspersed with magnificent and beautiful space vistas full of stars. They really honed in on this sense that we’re a small spec of dust in the vastness of the space. As someone who spent dozens of hours playing Elite Dangerous, I know the feeling all too well. The visuals are mind-blowing considering the budget. And even more so when you find out that they are all practical effects! They look much better than in some mid-level science fiction movies, getting close to the big ones.
They also fit in quite nicely with the retro style and prove that you can still use them. In the end, The Final Land (the literal translation of the title) is an intriguing movie that science fiction fans will appreciate and love. If you liked it, you might wanna check out above mentioned Prospect, Teleios, Stranded, and Cosmos when it comes to modern movies. And if you would like to go back to the eighties and nineties here are a couple of recommendations: Moontrap, The Dark Side Of The Moon, Moon 44, and Alien Cargo.
Director: Marcel Barion
Writer: Marcel Barion
Cast: Torben Föllmer, Milan Pesl, Vincenz Türpe
Fun Facts: There is no CGI in this film. The computer was only used for compositing layers of practical effects, like classically built models and miniatures (spaceship, spacestation…), simple holes in black cardboard (stars), color shapes in a watertank (clouds and space nebulae), pancakes (landscapes and planet surfaces) or styrofoam formations (rocks and caves).