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Beyond White Space has been on my to-watch list for some time. This is partially due to the fact that I have too much to watch, but also because I didn’t know what it was about. The official description on it was sparse.
When I pressed play, I was pleasantly surprised by the concept. Set in a far-future reality where Earth harvests giant space creatures to feed their burgeoning population, the crew of the fishing vessel The Essex are on a mission.
Normally, The Essex hunts giant space crabs, but overfishing of the local vector has made these creatures sparse. When a new crew member named Lynn Navarro joins the team and dangles the idea of venturing near the mythical “white space” to trap bigger prey, Captain Richard Bentley can’t resist. Especially since the creature they’ll be hunting is the same one that killed his father.
Honestly Beyond White Space is an amazing concept on paper. Think Moby Dick meets Alien. Unfortunately the film was marred by monotone acting and a lack of chemistry between the characters. I wish there had been more.
The CGI for this film was surprising good. The Essex was cool and the idea of a spaceship armed with harpoons to hunt space whales was engaging. It led to a lot of tense action scenes.
I also found the plot to be interesting from a “big picture” perspective, and it’s what kept me watching long past the point where I might have turned the film off.
Sci-fi movies are full of scrappy teams who have slightly shady pasts and chips on their shoulders, and these teams normally take the shape of mercenaries or smugglers. So it was really neat to see this concept with a bunch of fishermen instead.
Additionally, I thought there was a lot of potential for a second plot with the new officer, Lynn, who is secretly an undercover agent.
When Lynn discovers that she has an inoperable brain tumor, she becomes obsessed with the legends around white space and how it will allegedly cure all ailments. She infiltrates The Essex to take advantage of Captain Bentley’s obsession with the creature that killed his father, and there was a real chance to see a clash of ideals between the two characters. She wanted to follow the whale into white space, while he wanted to kill it. They even come to blows over this dichotomy, and we were so close to having a really nuanced story.
Unfortunately, the execution fell short.
Honestly this film is kind of boring, and not because of the plot. There’s little chemistry between the actors, and many of their lines are delivered in a flat monotone. I found myself wanting more emotions from them, both through their words and their actions. The only exception to this was the captain’s younger brother Owen and the lead pirate, who really chewed on the scenery.
The ending also felt rushed.
For most of the film we were treated with a slow build-up in tension, only for everything to happen in the last quarter all at once. The pirates returned. The crew mutinied. The space whale arrived and began to mess everything up. And when all of this was said and done, we were still left with unanswered questions. We still had no idea what white space is or what it does. This is kind of bad, considering the mystery of it was Lynn’s driving motivation. The words were also right there in the title.
Pirates-in-space continues to be an ongoing classic, so if you’re looking for a film with a similar theme—and a much better execution—check out 2005’s Serenity, a tie-in film to the Firefly franchise.