Stowaway, a new film from Joe Penna, who also co-wrote it, was added to Netflix recently. This Sci-Fi Movie star Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, and Toni Collette. The story follows the three-person crew of a mission to Mars as they discover a fourth member on board their vehicle.
From this premise, this story unfolds quite competently in the writer/director’s second film. It is a masterpiece of hard science fiction that has no peers as the I could only find one mistake and an artistic exaggeration from reality in the film. The majority of the film takes palace aboard an Aldrin cycler, a spacecraft that travels between two bodies regularly using gravity-assist flybys to correct its orbit. This type of spacecraft is name after its discoverer, Dr. Buzz Aldrin, the second human to walk on the Moon. In this case, the Mars Transfer Station is a small space station that is separated from the booster the astronauts used to catch up with the station via tethers, with a power section of solar arrays at the midpoint. This arrangement allows the station and the booster to spin around the power section providing artificial gravity for their voyage. This system would work in real life, and much of the film shows the filmmaker’s dedication to the realistic depiction of spaceflight in this film.
The story of the film revolves around the finding of the extra member of the crew aboard their ship. Due to an accident, a ground engineer was left aboard the spacecraft as it left earth. As they do not have the fuel available to return to Earth, the team must complete the trip and bring the stowaway to the Mars Colony. This extra member jeopardizes the mission as their unintended inclusion caused a major failure of the carbon dioxide removal system. Without this system, the crew must resort to growing algae to provide extra atmospheric support. This effort fails then the team is left with one option, to climb the tethers to take oxygen from the booster that is being used as a counterweight.
From a film-making standpoint, it is an excellent space film, second only to Moon in recent years for realism. As an avid rocket watcher, I noticed the callout of “Max Q” when the ship was outside of the Earth’s atmosphere jarring in such a realistic depiction. The major flaw is the story is a bit slow, but not enough to bore the viewer. Overall this film is great science fiction and should be on anyone’s list to stream as soon as they can.