Prospect has that look, the industrial, aged, space junk of our 1980s future. There’s only three days left before this system is going to be abandoned by civilization, but there’s riches to be found on the surface first. We begin with Damon and his teenage daughter, Cee. Damon is a drug user, a hustler, and broke. Their pod is broke. He’s pushing to do this one last job in the small amount of time they have left.
They land on a lush forest world, the Green, whose air is full of a particulate dust that makes for a beautiful reflective haze over all things. We learn that Damon can remove a gem from dangerous, living deposits found in the Green, and although they quickly find one worth plenty to change Cee and Damon’s fortunes, it’s not enough. They’re in the Green because Damon has been hired by mercenaries to dig up a cache that will make everyone rich.
In comes Ezra (Pedro Pascale) and Number 2, also diggers in the Green who stumble upon Damon and make clear that life in the Green is not just dangerous because of the elements. Without getting too deep into spoilers, the remainder of the movie is 2 parts Western, 1 part survivalist, including meeting settlers and the mercenaries.
This movie does all the things I love about smaller sci-fi. It lets its characters live and act in the world authentically, not explaining every step of the way but instead just showing us what crude space living is. The tension is there— can they get back on time, will they get back with their bounty, and what will it take out of them— but so is plenty of time to appreciate the beauty of this world. The contrast of our Earthly, almost fairy-like forrest with the gas giant that dominates an open vista above, we get the best of first contact/colonist/new world space exploration alongside the Ridley Scott-like set design for all things industrial, including extensive use of simple machines with clean lines, dirty nylons, small single-purpose screens, ruggedized parts, and a foreign glyph for writing.
What can I say? I love Westerns and I love this kind of low budget sci-fi about a dirty, industrial, hard space. Prospect was a movie that was made for me.