[Film Review] See You on the Other Side – FTL (2017) by Adam Stern
In brief: An awesome visual spectacle with a familiar story.
Watch the film here: https://youtu.be/t8LD0iUYv80
When will we break our last barrier? As a species, we’re always in search of the next horizon, the new frontier. Perhaps our drive to slip “the surly bonds of Earth”, as pilot and poet John Magee Jr. wrote, is the desire to touch the face of God. Heaven, after all, is just another name for the sky. Yet what goes up must come down. It’s not enough to fly away. We want to come home.
Adam Stern’s stunning visual effects showcase FTL is built on two desires: to transcend, and to return. It’s a mythic cycle, the Campbellian Hero’s Journey in its most elemental form. Faster-than-light travel, as in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Zemeckis’ Contact, becomes the vehicle for a transcendent encounter with the psuedo-divine. Like those science fiction classics, FTL leaves the precise nature of this encounter up to our interpretation. Stern’s film paints a mural of cosmic possibility, a rich visual feast prepared on a constrained budget; when the film takes off, it’s spectacular, racing neck and neck with Hollywood blockbusters. Unlike its famous genre antecedents, however, FTL’s cryptic ending is just shy of satisfying.
Nevertheless, the film’s elemental story is captivating, and its visual effects capture the childlike wonder of space travel. While the ending doesn’t quite deliver on one of the two desires – the return – the desire to transcend is fulfilled in spades, with a warp-gone-wrong sequence that recalls Nolan’s Interstellar and lands us where no one has gone before. It’s a marvellous scene, in the literal sense. At its highest point, FTL dares us to dream. There are barriers yet to break.