SPACE SWEEPERS Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad


Wil pushes broom.
Touted on Netflix as "Korea's first space blockbuster", as if that's something we've all been holding out for, Space Sweepers is essentially an old-fashioned battle between good and evil that is a blend of Serenity, Star Wars, 2001 and many other science fiction movies mashed-up with a Guardians of the Galaxy humour vibe to deliver a surprisingly unique and enjoyable end product. You could choose to watch it in the original Korean, and good on you for being so highbrow, but I plumped for the English dub. It is a tad jarring at first but it very quickly felt natural. This is helped because some of the dialogue actually is in English.

Song Joong-Ki and Kim Tae-Ri are, apparently, two of then most popular stars of Korean cinema, and even dubbed into English their quality shines through in their respective roles of Former Commander of the Space Guard Tae-Ho and Captain Jang of the space junk collector ship called The Victory. There are also several other non-Korean actors among the cast, most notably Richard Armitage (he of The Hobbit trilogy) who plays James Sullivan, the CEO of the UTS Corporation. The casting director of Space Sweepers clearly learned a thing or two from Hollywood films as the English actor is the bad guy, and Armitage plays him as a sort of Bill Gates gone psycho. There's a robot character, who I don't want to be too spoilerific about, but her inclusion feels like a very 2021-relevant nod to the NDR robot Andrew from Bicentennial Man and his journey, adding another classic sci-fi story into the mix.
The film itself is set in 2092 when Earth has become nearly uninhabitable. The multicultural cast helps to sell this setting as unlike many US productions that often forget that anyone who isn't American exists in the future the collection of workers and "chosen-few" would most likely come from around the globe. Tae-ho is not one of the chosen-few, rather he works on the Victory as a space junk dealer trying to save up enough money to search for his seven-year-old daughter who vanished into space during an accident. His life, along with the lives of the rest of the crew, takes an unexpected turn when a different humanoid child named Dorothy is swept-up. This child turns out to be a robot, and one that is a weapon of mass destruction.

Bill Gates Sullivan is searching for Dorothy for his own nefarious purposes, about which I will remain silent about as not to spoil the plot. What I will say though is that the crew of the Victory have their work cut-out trying to keep Dorothy out of the clutches of a corporate madman with a grudge against Earth and all its inhabitants whilst simultaneously trying to save the planet and earn a buck or two. It's the traditional battle of good vs evil and there have been far less successful, and less interesting, uses of this trope within science fiction.
Space Sweepers starts quite light and breezy in tone, inasmuch as a dystopian sci-fi flick can be, but turns darker part way through, not without good reason, and delivers both a strong message and quite an emotional pay-off at the end. There's a nice balance of story, character and action, with the story driven by the characters and the action occurring naturally rather than feeling forced into the plot. The special effects are incredibly good when considering the budget was about $21 million. It puts a lot of big budget movies to shame with how well presented the visuals are. The film has a bit of a steampunky vibe to some of the designs, and I personally liked the more rundown aesthetic presented. 

Space Sweepers then has a lot going for it. It's a character driven story with a diverse cast of talented actors, delivering a great blend of cultures and languages. You'll recognise the influence of many western science fiction favourites, which helps to make the film more accessible but doesn't feel like a direct clone of any of them. Underneath it's bubblegummy sci-fi pulp exterior Space Sweepers has strong message, and it has even stronger visuals. There's absolutely no scientific basis for anything here, it is pure fantasy, but approached as that it's an enjoyable couple of hours of escapism. Space Sweepers is by no means the best film you'll watch this year but it's easily the best Korean space blockbuster you've ever seen.

Geek. Lover. Fighter. Dwarf. Follow Wil on Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad