With its infinite nature and endless possibilities, space has been a central point for several films, such as the legendary “Star Wars” saga. Adding to the list is Korea’s recent sci-fi film, “Space Sweepers.” Intended to be a theatrical release, “Space Sweepers” was recently delivered on Netflix and has already won audiences’ hearts by topping Netflix’s charts in multiple regions. The film supasses itself with not only brilliant performances and captivating scenes, but also delivers on powerful themes.
Taking place in 2092 and due to Earth’s inevitable ecological deterioration, the ambiguous UTS organization builds a new home for selected citizens in space. The powerful corporation is led by James Sullivan (Richard Armitage), the antagonist who desires to abandon Earth for good. The dystopian film follows a crew aboard the spaceship, Victory, as they face distinct financial struggles. The crew encounters Dorothy (Park Ye-Rin), a highly dangerous young girl believed to be a robot capable of destroying anything in her vicinity. Dorothy is taken hostage as the crew capitalizes on this opportunity to exchange her for ransom. However, there is a change in plans when the crew becomes close with Dorothy and embarks on a mission to save both her and human civilization from utter annihilation.
The film incorporates a smooth plot that possesses a balance between action-packed, amusing and emotional scenes without going off on any tangents. It effectively depicts the story in three stages: the crew’s miserable life, their journey in exchanging Dorothy for a price and saving Earth. In the midst of these stages, the plot effortlessly includes several warm scenes that draw the crew closer to Dorothy’s wholesome nature. Early on in the film, it seems the crew has no intention of saving the world, but the well laid out plot gradually urges the crew to do the right thing. The plot leaves the audience craving for more when it seems that everyone has achieved their “happy ending,” but more events are to unfold.
CGI may be too over the top and haphazard in some films, but “Space Sweepers” makes excellent use of it, curating a futuristic realm. With its droid soldiers posing challenges to the Victory crew’s mission, “Space Sweepers” mirrors a “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”-like universe. Moreover, the graphics applied on the spaceships as they rapidly travel through space make the audience feel as though it’s partaking in a video game. The use of CGI is impeccable, as it shows how progressive the advanced alternate reality is from the hopeless, dying Earth and makes the divide between the two spheres realistic.
In regards to acting, each character embodies unique personalities that make the Victory crew well rounded. The crew leader, Captain Jang, (Kim Tae-ri) is a free-spirited woman known for her intelligence that is put to the test with Earth’s impending doom. Tiger Park (Jin Seon-kyu), an outlaw, relinquishes his tough demeanor that is dissolved when he connects with Dorothy. Bubs (voiced by Yoo Hai-jin), the crew’s robot, creates a lighthearted aura with her sarcasm that is sure to make anyone laugh. Furthermore, the film fleshes out the characters as their backstory is given and utilized to develop the characters. For example, Tae-ho (Song Joong-ki) loses his daughter and utilizes excellent facial expressions that develop sympathy in the audience. He evolves from viewing Dorothy as a financial opportunity to shielding her from any harm. Thus, the film is complimented by the crew’s distinct traits and stories. Being a foreign language film, it also exhibits a diverse cast, as some lines are delivered in a range of languages, from Arabic to Spanish, which make the film more authentic.
Other than saving the world, “Space Sweepers” delivers themes that focus on prevalent real-world issues. In showcasing Earth as an inhospitable home, the film calls attention to human activities that harm the environment. Parallel to real human actions, morality is also explored as the crew faces a dilemma of renouncing their selfish endeavors to protect Dorothy. Thus, “Space Sweepers” is more than just a sci-fi film, as it makes one think about whether they would sacrifice their wishes for the greater good.
“Space Sweepers” is a visually stunning film that brilliantly utilizes CGI to transport the audience into another world. The film excellently executes its plot by providing an engaging sequence of events and manages to effectively relay vital backstories of the characters. Each character radiates in their respective manners, as they each have opposite personalities that bolster their relationship. What sets “Space Sweepers” apart from other films are its themes of humanity and kindness that go deeper than other sci-fi elements. It definitely checks all the boxes with its remarkable cast, storyline and immersive use of GCI that goes above and beyond.
Verdict: The film is sure to be a top favorite for not just sci-fi lovers, but for everyone with its exhilarating adventure and riveting use of CGI. “Space Sweepers” is a huge triumph for Korean cinema with its outstanding performances and heartwarming themes.