I wanted to see this on the strength of several reviews that held it up as an example of what can still be done on a small budget (under $4 million, which is tiny these days). It premiered at the SXSW festival in Austin, to favorable reviews. Most of the people who made it were first-timers, including Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl, the writer-directors, and most of the crew. There is only one high-tech sequence in the movie and that is at the very beginning, when we see a huge, rotating spaceship in incredible detail. Only I guess that doesn’t really qualify as “high tech” anymore. Stuff like that can be done on your laptop.
After that, it is the story of a teenage girl and her father landing on a planet that is lovely (actually the Olympic Peninsula in Washington) but toxic to humans, so they have to wear spacesuits all the time. They are prospecting for some sort of rare jewels, hoping to strike it rich. The story unfolds from there, and it works very well. It could have been set in Nevada with an old prospector and his daughter, but making it SF assures a bigger audience. All the design—the small landing ships, the suits, the equipment they carry—is done on the cheap, but looks very convincing.
Two actors in the small cast are people you may have seen before. One is Pedro Pascal, who played the guy who gets his head crushed by The Mountain in Game of Thrones. But the movie is carried by the young girl, Sophie Thatcher, who does a swell job of it. This is her feature movie debut, and I hope to see a lot more of her in the future. She could be the next Dakota Fanning.