Writer/director Carl Strathie
Starring Steven Ogg, Alice Lowe.
Most of time when I see films I’ve visited the set of, it’s via a screener on my iPad where most of the effect is lost.
But occasionally I get invited to see the finished thing. Such is the case with new sci-fi thriller Solis.
I was there on day one of the shoot and had a good feeling about the production. I deliberately didn’t read the script (though probably could have done), as I didn’t want to spoil the finished thing.
Steven Ogg – Solis
Given the fact I’ve been hyped about the production for 19 months, finally seeing the movie at a cast and crew screening in London is a relief, then an edge-of-the-seat, pulse-pounding, breathless rollercoaster ride.
Imagine a mash-up of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, Gravity, The Martian, and Tom Hardy’s Locke and you get an idea of the tone and setting, yet it’s not a clone of any of those but very much its own beast.
Steven Ogg (The Walking Dead) gives a terrific performance as Troy Holloway, the sole survivor of an escape pod on a collision course with the sun. His single contact is Roberts, the crackly voice on the end of his intercom; the audio lifeline who will stop at nothing to save him.
Steven Ogg – Almost silent running in Solis
Alice Lowe is terrific as the lone voice in the darkness, and as Holloway encounters one problem after another, it’s not just Troy who clings to Roberts as the voice of sanity. The audience will no doubt use her as a checkpoint after each breathless hurdle.
Like Alien, the first act is a world-building exercise, even if that world is space and a shuttle for most of the movie. Solis was shot on a shoestring, but it looks like it cost a lot more because of the calibre of the cast and crew.
Had Hollywood shot the same film with a bigger cast and production team, and more lavish effects, I doubt it would have been any more effective. (The sun VFX alone are among the best I’ve seen).
The photography by Bart Sienkiewicz is terrific, while production designer Tony Noble (Moon) and his team do a great job with the old school look of the movie. (I’d visited their studio during my set visit at the tail end of 2016, so to see the fruits of their labours on screen is an honour).
By the third act I was utterly gripped as Solis reached its natural conclusion, yet it’s such a lean production, the bits you think will round things off don’t come. Not a bad thing as it left me hungry for more.
Yes I’m being deliberately vague because I don’t want to give anything away.
I have no doubt Hollywood will be banging on the door of Carl Strathie in the near future. And having been on the set of their next move Transience (aka The Encounter), I can’t wait to see how that plays out. (Alice Lowe also features in that offering for reference).
If you get a chance, see Solis on the big screen. It sounds great; the groaning metal and cracking glass are almost characters in their own right; a Greek chorus for what might be a Greek tragedy.
Music (or a lack of it) is crucial to any movie’s success, and David Stone Hamilton does a terrific job of adding a grandiose feel to the drama.
I’m reminded of James Horner’s score for Battle Beyond the Stars in 1980. Within two years he was working on Star Trek II, and have a feeling the maestro behind Solis will also be snapped up for a Hollywood epic within months.
I explain to producer Charlette Kilby after the screening that film makers are futurists, and reviewers are historians, examining the light from their star that was created years ago.
Solis Producer Charlette Kilby
It’s an apt analogy for any sci-fi movie. I have a feeling fans will be examining Solis’s aura for some time.
The author basking in the glow of a star.