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On its final mission, a commercial spaceship is threatened by its own computer, forcing the crew to the asteroid station of Somnus. With the ship intent on its own agenda, and the colonists reduced to a level of barbarism, the crew can do little but survive the situation...
Somnus (2016. 1 hr, 19 min, 50 sec) is a science fiction film written and directed by Chris Reading. The film owes more than a little to many past science fiction films. Unfortunately, the film's ambitions are rarely supported by its budget and good intentions cannot disguise the obvious faults, nor blurred shots disguise a lack of experience.
It would be easy to be wholly negative about the film and there is a lot that is wrong with it, though much of this must be put down to the lack of money. Certainly, in the full-length commentary both the director and actor Marcus McMahon are nothing if not enthusiastic about the project.
The film starts in 1952 were an old man is gifted a book which needs to be preserved across the generations, at this point we know not why and by the end of the film I wasn’t much more enlightened. Suffice it to say the fate of humanity is reliant on the book's preservation.
The film then flashes forward three hundred years via some nice practical effects to simulate outer space, to the freighter ship. Here the monotony of space travel has our two main actors pontificate endlessly. I’m guessing that the tone was supposed to reflect that engendered in Kubrick's 2001, but there is a great difference between tension inducing stillness and boredom brought on by a lethargic pace.
Unknown to the crew the computer, Meryl, is intent on getting her hands on a planet destroying bomb and is willing to murder the whole crew to get it. Again, Meryl is no HAL and only adds to the variable acting on display. This middle section feels like an unfunny rendition of Dark Star.
On the plus side there is demonstrable skill in such elements as shot framing and the non-CGI effects, although some of these have been inserted with no evident pay off. The shots of jellyfish and seascapes only add to the narrative confusion.
Uneven at best, the positive elements of the film are not enough to generate interest in the story and the worst do nothing to make the movie coherent.
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