KSL Movie Show review: ‘I.S.S.’ too on-the-nose

Jan 23, 2024, 6:30 AM

In this KSL Movie review, read Steve Salles' opinion of why the movie I.S.S is too on the nose....

In this KSL Movie review, read Steve Salles' opinion of why the movie I.S.S is too on the nose.

SALT LAKE CITY — It begins with an interesting premise.

What if a nuclear war broke out on Earth?  How would the International Space Station crew of six – three Russians and three Americans react, especially after receiving orders to take control of the I.S.S. at all costs?  Tension much?

Let’s back up.  

Two new American astronauts have just recently arrived to begin their missions in space. Dr. Kira Foster (Ariana DeBose from “West Side Story”) is a biochemist assigned to research the effects of space on mice.  Christian Campbell (John Gallagher Jr.) is an engineer assigned to the maintenance of various systems on the I.S.S.

The space station commander, Gordon Barrett (Chris Messina) is the other American, along with the three Russians, Weronika (Masha Mashkova), Nicholas (Costa Ronin) and Alexey (Pilou Asbæk).  

From the moment the Soyuz rocket delivers the new recruits, it’s all rainbows and kumbaya as expressions of cooperation, working together and mutual respect permeate every sentence uttered.  It’s almost too on-the-nose for my taste, especially when one of the astronauts points out the constant humming of the ventilation system, saying “Gee, if that ever shuts down, we’re all in big trouble.” 

Is it still considered foreshadowing when an imaginary neon sign glaringly points out the mere obvious?  Like you’d better tuck that little tidbit away because you know for a certainty that’s coming back to haunt the crew and audience. It’s kind of insulting, to be honest. 

Tensions rise on the I.S.S  

Setting that aside, the crew quickly gathers at the observation window to take in the awesome spectacle of Earth from this lofty perch, only to discover shortly afterward that tensions have reached such a cataclysmic apex, that massive explosions and fire have covered the once picturesque landscape.

Quoting Charlton Heston in the 1968 ‘Planet of the Apes’ screaming, “You maniacs!  You blew it up! Ah, damn you!  God damn you all to hell!” 

Chuck was not happy.  

And you’d think these people would be a little more upset too, realizing okay it’s just us left.  The world we know is mostly gone.  Now we really have to pull together because we’re all we’ve got.  

But no.

Instead, they get messages of “take control” for your country and blah blah blah. What?!!  You guys have destroyed everything and now you want us to destroy each other? Their response should have been, “Hello?  New phone. Who dis.”

For a moment or two, they look at each other suspiciously. Being stuck inside that tin can, the suspense builds nicely, but these filmmakers can’t leave good enough alone. Soon after it becomes a ridiculous brawl between scientists, like those silly slap fights on “Seinfeld.” But worst of all, it ends abruptly. Sequel bait? I wouldn’t count on it. 

I.S.S. (B-) Rated R for some violence and language. Starring Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, John Gallagher Jr., Masha Mashkova, Costa Ronin and Pilou Asbæk. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (“Our Friend” Blackfish”) – filmed at Screen Gems Studios in North Carolina. Running time: 95 minutes. 

Steve Salles is the co-host of the KSL Movie Show. Follow the show on Facebook. Join the KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500. 

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KSL Movie Show review: ‘I.S.S.’ too on-the-nose