By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)
Spectral: Netflix Finally Strikes Out
Spectral is the new Netflix action/sci-fi original film directed by Nic Mathieu and co-written by Nic Mathieu and Ian Fried. This film stars Clayne Crawford, Emily Mortimer, James Badge Dale, and Bruce Greenwood. The narrative takes place in a world war 3 like setting, in which we as an audience are introduced to the character of Clyne. Clyne is a futuristic militarized weapons and equipment engineer. We are introduced to this character by watching him give a visual demonstration of a weapon that can vaporize molecules such as turning a solid into a liquid or a liquid into a gas. But, after a disturbing malfunction of one of his equipment in the field called a Spectral. He then has to leave to go see the malfunction in which he discovers that these Spectrals have caught some type of thing on a recently killed soldier’s feed in which he then has to find out what it is and how to stop it. This leads to an incredibly underwhelming, terribly paced, and misdirected film that left me feeling disappointed.
I love Netflix! Netflix has made some of the best original TV shows such as Stranger Things, Daredevil, The Crown, House of Cards, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Orange Is the New Black, Marco Polo, and many others. Netflix has made really great motion pictures as well like Beasts of No Nation, The 13th, and A Very Murray Christmas. So, I was excited when I saw this low-budget, Sci-fi, and independent style film. I decided to invite my buddies over and sit down and watch this film together. And, to describe my experience with the film I’ll just say that this movie is a little over 100 minutes long and after the first hour of the film I said out loud “oh there’s still another 40 minutes.”
Let me start by saying this is not a completely terrible film, this film is not trash I promise you that. This film does have good qualities. Such as the visual effects are really well done. I believe that Weta Digital studios did the visual effects for the film, and this studio has done amazing visual effects for films such as Avatar, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Avengers, and The Jungle Book. So least to say these visual effects were very well done. There is also some great production sets and design for the film as well as decently directed dialogue sequences. Other than that the rest of this film is hard to follow in my opinion. Where this film lost me that most was the way the director crafted the tone, pacing, and editing of the film. This film starts very rapidly, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. But, when you choose to have a rapidly paced film you must involve great characterization as well as great directed sequences.
This is seen in fast paced films such as Edge of Tomorrow, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Speed. These are amazing action movies that have blown critics away as well as audiences. These films also involve amazing characters and awesomely directed action and dialogue sequences. The pacing of this film is so fast to point where you lose interest because you haven’t had time to digest the films narrative. This is because of terrible editing and a lackluster script. The performances are terrible as well. Which was hard for me to watch because I love some of these actors and actress. And, I say actress instead of actresses because she is the only female character in the entire film minus a child. It’s not necessarily the cast’s fault in my opinion, because this rapid editing and paced film doesn’t allow these actors to put on a performance because not even they can keep up.
The script is also very flawed, as far as its reasoning for how some of these actors are written as well the narrative itself. Creating many plot holes as well as very poorly written problem solutions that wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for a giant convenience of a certain setting. No spoilers as always, but after a while it just got ridiculous. And, this is an example that is not a spoiler to the plot of the film. In the film after a huge action sequence are heroes find this safe haven and get some of their injured attended too.
Now when they enter this fortress it is mid-day maybe even late morning and very sunny. Then after minutes have passed it is suddenly late night and it’s raining when some of our other heroes arrive. Then after they enter in the background you can see bright sunlight entering the windows. This is just one example, and I understand this film had a low-budget but there are ways to keep that from a happening such as just putting something over the windows in the shot. Nonetheless these flaws drastically hurt the film, making this one of the most disappointing film that Netflix has made thus far.
So, where this film fell flat for me was its terrible pacing, unnecessary rapid editing, lackluster performances, and plot hole driven script with many conveniences. Like I said this isn’t a completely terrible film it does have really good special effects, great production design, and some glimpses of good direction. But, overall as a Netflix original this film was a disappointment and I’m going to give it a D. What is your favorite Sci-fi film? Did you enjoy Spectral? What’s your favorite Netflix original series or film? Let me know down in the comments below and as always have a blessed day.