Without any supernatural elements, Stowaway is a slow-burner for fans of science fiction and space movies. First of all, I think that the title is all wrong. It brings to mind the story of Alien and its eighth passenger. And there will not be any aliens here, only humans faced with the ultimate task of reaching another planet. We will be following the crew of a first manned mission to the Red Planet. If you’re looking for that juicy action, I suggest you check out Life from 2017. Secondly, if you temper your expectations there’s some fun to be had with this hard science fiction movie. You will be the real stowaway on this meticulous and sometimes tedious journey among the stars. Thirdly, can we lose the whole “I listen to jazz because I’m just so fucking smart and quirky” gimmick?
Finally, what Stowaway does spectacularly well is the build-up. It puts you in the shoes of our three astronauts so believably that you will think you’re going to Mars. It’s something that Elon Musk would call porn. The attention to detail and great acting add even more to this immersive atmosphere. Starring Toni Collette, Anna Kendrick, and Daniel Dae Kim, the cast was great. After so many diverse roles we finally have the opportunity to see Toni in space. And while the first third was phenomenal, as soon as the second started problems started popping up. Contrived plot development, melodrama, and plot holes are something you will have to just deal with. Suspension of belief is the word, I believe. They get worse as time goes on, ending with a whimper. This is why if you’re not a fan of space movies, maybe you should skip this one.
All the final checks are complete and the tremendous shaking starts making clear to our three astronauts they’re about to leave Earth. Commander Marina Barnett, biologist David Kim, and doctor Zoe Levenson are one of the first humans destined to reach Mars after a two-year journey. Prepared for every eventuality they have an entire crew of super-smart people back on Earth to help them if anything bad happens. However, what’s going to happen next is something no one could have predicted.
The interiors of our spacecraft look great and believable. Almost like the real thing. The same goes for special effects and cinematography, completing the picture of a visually appealing movie. I could forgive Stowaway its forced plot and subsequent moral masturbation but I simply cannot get past the initial setup. It’s simply so “fuck-it” that I still cannot believe it they made a movie with it. Especially coming from Joe Penna, whose previous movie Arctic was pretty solid. The rest of the science seems relatively okay. It’s certainly not Sunshine or even Gravity, but it will do just fine.
In the end, I would like to bring your attention to a couple of less-known science fiction movies with similar themes. The first of them is Stranded, also following a crew of astronauts on their way to Mars. Next up we have Final Voyage, Europa Report, Last Days On Mars, and Apollo 18. Enjoy.
Director: Joe Penna
Writers: Joe Penna, Ryan Morrison
Cast: Toni Collette, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, Dan Barry, Scott Manley
Fun Facts: YouTube video blogger, astronomy and space enthusiast Scott Manley provided consultations and did orbital mechanics math to make sure the movie setting and plot are as scientifically accurate as possible.