Solis (2018) – Film Review
Director: Carl Strathie
Cast: Steven Ogg, Alice Lowe
by Roger Crow
It’s two years since I visited the set of Solis in Bubwith and, from December 10, viewers finally get to see what the fuss is about. The debut feature from writer/director Carl Strathie was for me one of the most exciting set visits I’d been to in years – not least because it’s just the sort of film I would have made given the chance.
The plot is simple: drifting towards the sun in a malfunctioning shuttle craft, things are looking bleak for American astronaut Troy Holloway. He’s accompanied by a late crew-mate and for reasons which soon become clear, he’s losing the will to live. A broken man on a collision course with destiny wouldn’t be much fun, if it weren’t for the glimmer of hope at the other end of his intercom. Commander Roberts is that light in the darkness, somewhere across space.
It remains to be seen whether her rescue team can intercept Troy in time, or whether he will meet a fiery doom.
“Ticks all the boxes”
Solis is a 90-plus minute white knuckle, white-hot rollercoaster ride which gives Walking Dead veteran Steven Ogg a chance to shine brighter than the burning star at the heart of the film.
Watching the finished thing in a hotel overlooking Carnaby Street in the summer of 2018 was a pleasure. The fact I was sat next to production designer Tony (Moon) Noble (who gives the movie a feel of much loved sci-fi classics Silent Running, Alien and Outland) was a bonus.
As survival thrillers go, Solis ticks all the boxes: a broken protagonist with a troubled past in need of emotional and physical rescue; the Samaritan coping with her own loss, and determined to save the hero.
Okay, genre fans will be reminded of Apollo 13, Gravity, Sunshine and The Martian, but Solis is very much its own beast, charting similar galactic coordinates, but shining in its own right.
“Excellent leading man”
Made on a tight budget but punching above its weight, the final act left me electrified. Every crack of glass in a window acts like a ticking bomb before the end.
Ogg is an excellent leading man, as he proved with Grand Theft Auto V, the motion-captured performance which made Carl realise he was ideal for his film.
Alice Lowe’s Roberts is excellent, and should touch a chord with many. And if you read my set report with photogenic producer Charlette Kilby, look out for her in a photo cameo.
Rising star David Stone Hamilton does a wonderful job with the orchestral score. I’m reminded of James Horner, who started out on much loved micro budget projects before being one of Hollywood’s most reliable composers.
Kudos also to York’s Viridian FX, who do a great job with the mix of model work and CG. The final shots are phenomenal.
No spoilers, but Solis leaves me hungry for more. It’s a great debut from one of the most talented rising film makers in the business. The fact it was shot in Yorkshire is all the more remarkable, and if there’s any justice, we’ll get another chance to explore this universe at some point. (Like the original Mad Max and Evil Dead, it feels like a starter for a main course).
With Carl Strathie now putting the final touches to eighties-set sci-fi saga Dark Encounter (also shot in Bubwith, and featuring Ms Lowe and a David Stone Hamilton score), I’m now keen to see how that more ambitious offering plays out.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch the behind-the-scenes extras on the DVD version of Solis to see how the rest of it was put together.