The Final Land (Das Letzte Land) is the latest film from Marcel Barion and is the first time he’s both written and directed. The end result is good, but with some caveats, notably to do with pacing. This movie simply does not need to be nearly two hours long.
Two prisoners on a backwater planet that appears to be made mostly of dust and fossils, stumble upon an abandoned spaceship that offers a chance of escape for them both. Forging a distinctly uneasy alliance and after managing to fix it with the sci-fi equivalent of spit, gum and duct tape they manage to get it into the air and set a path for another planet where hopefully they will find sanctuary. But as they begin to explore the ship and repair its systems, it becomes clear that the previous crew’s story did not end well and that they risk sharing the same fate if they don’t change their course.
The two person cast, comprising Adem (Torben Follmer) and Novak (Milan Pesl) both turn in good performances, helped as they are by the cramped, run down interior they have to work with. This ship is not some gleaming sci-fi marvel, oh no. Stop thinking Star Wars or 2001 with gleaming displays and shining chrome, this is far more Red Dwarf or the Scorpio from Blakes 7. Old, beat up, grimy, the ship is the silent third character in this film and it is something of a shame more wasn’t done with it, the action almost entirely confined to two rooms for nearly the entire running time. The price you pay for an indie production. The set designers can be rightfully proud of what they have created here.
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The story is decent enough, again focusing more on the main characters and their delicate relationship as well as slowly uncovering the fates of the ship’s previous owners. The ending is serviceable, if somewhat underwhelming, in part because of the single biggest issue that plagues this film: the editing.
Some scenes linger far, far, FAR longer than they have any need to. A character stares out the window at a star. Nothing happens. He continues to stare. Nothing happens. He continues to stare for twenty whole seconds at a scene that barely moves and then finally it cuts away. This is far from the only culprit as there are more than one of these ‘let’s stare into the empty void of space for far longer than we need to’ moments. The scenes in the end ten minutes or so of the film take a simply ludicrous amount of time, with a great deal of lingering shots on people’s faces for what feels like a small eternity each time. This film simply does not need to be nearly two hours long. Some judicious editing is desperately needed here.
That aside, this is a curious little film and while the character motivations are oftentimes murky, the story holds together well and will keep a viewer engaged till the very end. While not quite a conventional ‘one man against the odds’ story, fans of films like Solis and Lifepod should give this one a looksee. Also, Pro Tip : spaceship graveyards are never a good sign.