12/11/2020 06:35

Film: Sputnik

Year: 2020

Director: Egor Abramenko

Writer: Oleg Malovichko and Andrey Zolotarev

Starring: Oksana Akinshina, Fedor Bondarchuk and Pyotr Fyodorov



This was a film that I heard about earlier this year and since I’m a fan of sci-fi horror films, I was intrigued. The director was on a podcast and was interviewed, so that gave me some insight to the movie without spoiling it. This was one where I watched a sci-fi horror film as a Featured Review on Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast, so I thought this would pair up nicely. The synopsis here is the long survivor of an enigmatic spaceship incident hasn’t returned back home alone – hiding inside his body is a dangerous creature.

We start this movie off with a couple of cosmonauts in their shuttle back in what I believe to be 1986. The one that seems to be in charge is Konstantin Veshnyakov (Pyotr Fyodorov) and with him is Kirill Averchenko (Aleksey Demidov). They’re singing songs as they prepare to disengage and return to Earth. They make a terrifying discovery when a shadow moves past the window and it sounds like something trying to get in. They then crash land in Kazakhstan. Averchenko is missing a portion of his head from what it looks like and Konstantin seems to have survived. His eyes look black though as he screams.

It then takes over to Tatyana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina). She is brought before a board as she did a risky treatment on a patient. She is at risk at losing her position and from what I gather, the ability to perform medicine. All she has to do is admit her fault. She refuses to do so though. Watching this is Colonel Semiradov (Fedor Bondarchuk). After it is over, he approaches her about a top secret research that he wants her to participant in. She can say no, but he wants her to come with him to at least give her assessment.

When she arrives in this remote location, Colonel Semiradov explains the reason for the isolation. We learn later is that they’ve given a cover story to the news. They claim that everything went good and that the two cosmonauts are being held for routine testing. Actually though, Konstantin came back with something else. In charge of the tests is Yan Rigel (Anton Vasilev). He doesn’t really like Tatyana being there as he feels threatened. We see that she doesn’t necessarily play by the rules and goes in to interview Konstantin, who is interested when he sees her. Her assessment is that he is dealing with PTSD and that she isn’t needed here.

Colonel Semiradov doesn’t give her all the information. He brings her back that night and she sees more of the truth. There is a parasitic creature inside of him. It comes out every few nights and while it does, Konstantin goes into a coma. She changes her mind and decides to stay. Her goal is to separate the two, but the more she looks into it, it might be less of a parasite and more of a symbiotic relationship. There is also more that Colonel Semiradov isn’t sharing as well.

To take this to my thoughts on the movie itself, we have an interesting set up here. Part of the interview was stating why they decided to set it in the 1980’s. One easy thing is the technology is a bit easier to use here, but we also are putting this in the Soviet Union. I really got vibes of Citizen X here with how ineffective the government was working and the lies that are being fed to keep it a secret. Colonel Semiradov also being a military man is looking toward weaponizing this creature. This shouldn’t be a shock with things like Alien and being this is ight in the middle of the Cold War/arms race.

Going from here though, I like the characters we are working with. We don’t necessarily always know what to believe. Tatyana will say or reveal things to get a reaction out of people. She is quite smart though and dead on a lot of the times though as well. She is brought here since she did this radical treatment. Colonel Semiradov knows if anyone can solve what to do here, it is her. I’m glad to see they went with a woman for this role as well. The Colonel is an interesting character too. He really seems to embody the Soviet mentality with only revealing what he feels needs to be known. He’s a cold, calculating man and it works. There is also Yan, who is only looking out for himself. He never does anything unless he can see the benefit to be gained. Tatyana sees this and can manipulate him. What I will say, Yan starts out as a jerk and I like where he ends up.

Another character I really need to break down is Konstantin. He is selected by this creature and the movie gives us some interesting reasons why. The major one I see is his will to survive. He has a mother that without him has no one. He might also have a son that he may or may not know about that is in an orphanage. Tatyana and him have interesting back and forth conversations where you don’t always know what is real and what’s not. There could also be a medical reason which I’ll shift over to next.

Moving next to the creature, from what I remember I think they went practical as much as they could. I still feel there probably is CGI here, but it is pretty seamless. I will give a slight spoiler here, this alien creature eats humans. The movie gets a bit more specific, it is creepy that it wants us to be scared of it before it eats us. There is a certain chemical it needs and something here comes into play why Konstantin was chosen over Averchenko. I’m also a fan of the comic book character of Venom. This entity is similar in that it creates a symbiotic relationship with Konstantin.

Aside from the creature effects, I think that this movie is shot very well. I’ve already said I liked the time period it is set. It does feel like that with the technology. What I will also give credit there is that it does have a timeless feel to it as well. That is something that bodes with since it is ramming down our throats the era it is set.

Since I’ve broken down the characters, I’ll give my thoughts on the acting next. Akinshina I think is really good here as our lead. I like the character she portrayed and I think she fits it well. Bondarchuk is the same. He is a villain without being one the whole time. For a good portion it feels like he’s adhering to the rules of his country, but we also see that he needs the control. Fyodorov has a good look for this cosmonaut and his performance was good as well. He’s another one that feels like a villain at times, but the movie did a great job in humanizing him. Vasilev works well as this weasel guy while also having good growth to here he ends up. Demidov and the rest of the cast I thought rounded this out for what was needed.

Quickly I wanted to go over the soundtrack. I really like how epic this soundtrack sounds. For me, it really feels like something you’d feel inside if you learned an alien like this existed. It is good that it really for the more exciting scenes we get this type of music to really help build that feeling up. Aside from that, I think the score fits for what they needed.

If I did have a gripe and I feel like I’ve been saying it a lot lately. This movie does feel like it runs a bit long. There are aspects that we do need. The scientific process needs to be there and that works for me to learn more about this creature. The problem is that I don’t know if we need 113 minute runtime. It takes awhile after the initial shock of seeing the monster until the climax that even around 10 minutes being cut would have made this run tighter for me.

So now with that said, I really enjoyed this movie. I’m a fan of these sci-fi horror movies and I like setting this in the past without beating us over the head with it. It really makes a lot of sense for a Russian movie like this being that it would have been the Soviet Union with their strict rules there. The acting is strong across the board. I really like the concepts this movie is exploring with learning about this creature and the more we do, the more horrific it becomes. The effects were on point and I think the soundtrack for the exciting scenes are as well. If I do have a gripe, it is just a bit too long and it bogged down a bit in the middle. With that said though I still found this to be a good movie overall and worth a viewing. What I will warn you though, I watched it in Russian with the subtitles on. If that is a problem, I would avoid this.


My Rating: 8 out of 10