While calling it a western film isn’t an official designation, “Prospect” feels like it could be a transplanted story from the American Gold Rush. A father and daughter set off to alien soil to find fortune from mining rare minerals. They are pioneers without true homes, hauling space flintlock rifles and pistols that look like they could be from the 19th century. It makes for a great space-punk style aesthetic.
Cee (Sophie Thatcher) is a lonely and isolated young character, but progresses into a fiercely capable protagonist with good symbiotic performances between Ezra (Pedro Pascal) and Damon (Jay Duplass). While there is extensive filmography to quibble with, “Prospect” may be one of Pedro Pascal’s best character performances. Both Ezra and Damon are interesting counterweights to Cee, and their stories are inexorably dependent on Cee’s reactions. But Pascal perfectly threads his progression from uncertain hostile to fatherly companion.
A good sci-fi creates an interesting world that leaves its audience in awe. While there isn’t a terribly immersive base of lore or extensive character arcs, the strength of “Prospect” is in its organic physical setting and characters in harsh space suits that create a foreboding desperation to the survival of our main characters. One downside of these space suits and their communications is that its essentially raw radio audio, and while that makes for some great tension, it also means it can be challenging to understand dialogue at times without subtitles.
“Prospect” is a fine space western sci-fi indie film, boasting strong character performances to set a gripping story that punches above its low budget. With a fantastic ambient soundtrack and a wonder conveyed through cinematography, “Prospect” is an imaginative work that gives the genre a good name.