At the center of Alex Taylor’s Spaceship is a group of cyber goth teenagers (which is apparently a thing now). These adolescents troll about expounding on the deeper meanings of life, toiling inconsequentially on the tenants of suicide, and generally not concerning themselves with repercussions or real life. They are teenagers to the most caricatured and ridiculous extent, all faux psychological musings and no real knowledge or awareness of actual life. But they look really interesting…that’s enough right?
No, Mr. Taylor, no it is not.
It pops and flashes, captivating in its different viewpoint to the extent that the film may be best enjoyed on mute.
Writer-director Alex Taylor’s fumbling of character, assembling balls of quirks instead of crafting fully developed individuals, is a symptom of his larger problem. He is all style, all pretty baubles, interesting camerawork, and satisfying use of color, but with none of the substance to make the experience worthwhile. That’s why more of the credit for Spaceship’s few successes should probably be attributed to cinematographer Liam Iandoli. The overall look of Spaceship is like visual sugar. It pops and flashes, captivating in its different viewpoint to the extent that the film may be best enjoyed on mute.
The film certainly has high hopes, cramming itself full of characters, superfluous subplots, and so many delusional musings that it’d be kind of impressive if it weren’t so annoying. At no point in the film does any element inspire confidence in the viewer that any of this will have a point. The style of storytelling, a kind of narrative leap frog, has the potential to work. In theory it should function as a novel put to screen, but in execution it leaves plenty to be desired. The problem is that there just isn’t a strong enough script to support this stylistic hubris. Characters are often introduced with no other purpose than to offer an additional point of view. Storylines are picked up and abandoned with little regard for the greater whole and by the end you’re just left confused and wondering what it all was even about.
The strongest story and the closest thing the film has to a backbone is that of Lucidia (Alexa Davies) and her father, Gabriel (Antti Reini). To take just this story, these few interactions, as separate from the film is to make Spaceship all the better. Lucidia retreats into the fantastical as a way to come to grips with the loss of her mother and Gabriel struggles to provide, support, and understand his daughter. Davies and Reini have genuine chemistry and their relationship feels authentic. Unfortunately, Taylor seems bored by his own story and quickly introduces secondary and tertiary characters of diminishing importance to jolt a line that was doing just fine on its own. His meddling with something organic and genuine lends the film a falseness that is off putting and distracting.
As the credits roll you are just left to ponder whether or not this has been a complete waste of your time (it totally has).
The biggest issue that I take with Spaceship is the pointlessness of it all. It believes itself to be intelligent, to be full of insight and strange beliefs, yet it never manages to be able to finish a single sentence. The story is riddled with plot holes, clichés, contrivances, and just general buffoonery. It is a film shaped by the minds of the stereotypical teenager that your grandmother is always grossing about. The audience is always kept no closer than an arm’s length and Taylor introduces so many needlessly confusing elements with a consistency that leads me to believe that he genuinely doesn’t want the audience to understand his tale. Catharsis or even a general sense of conclusion is absent. As the credits roll you are just left to ponder whether or not this has been a complete waste of your time (it totally has).
There is something to be said for style. Having a different point of view or an idea for a new method of storytelling has its merit. However, to develop a feature film around little more than bright colors and generic childish moping, is to render the impressive style inconsequential. There is enough talent within Spaceship to put forth a film that utilizes an impressive understanding of color and sense of visual purpose that speaks to a strong stylistic eye. Unfortunately, it fumbles nearly every other component of its filmmaking to relinquish any point being made. There are so many characters that even the writer-director forgets about some of them along the way. Even the ones granted the majority of the attention are poorly defined and shallow at best. Spaceship is pretty but achingly empty.
There is enough talent within Spaceship to put forth a film that utilizes an impressive understanding of color and sense of visual purpose that speaks to a strong stylistic eye. Unfortunately, it fumbles nearly every other component of its filmmaking to relinquish any point being made.