Good Plot Twists Overshadowed By Poor Characterisation
Spanish sci-fi thriller Orbiter 9 has all the ingredients to be a really good, memorable film. This is certainly one that’s likely to divide opinion as some well written twists and thought provocative ideas are sure to resonate with a lot of people. Unfortunately, Orbiter 9 suffers from a lack of purpose, lost in a myriad of wildly inconsistent ideas and an unfocused plot lacking well written characters and a consistent tone.
The story begins with Helena (Clara Lago), a young, isolated woman on board a spaceship who finds her life turned upside down when an engineer, Alex (Álex González), boards and begins fixing the dwindling oxygen supply. As the two grow closer together, the plot changes thanks to one of Orbiter 9’s plot twists. What follows is a film that picks up in pace and drops focus jumping from action, to thriller to elements of romance and back again with reckless abandon. Without giving too much away, Orbiter 9 loses a lot of momentum after this surprising reveal and never really recovers after, despite the well written ending.
It’s a shame too as Orbiter 9 is technically very well put together. There’s a good use of silence during bites of dialogue and deep, dread-inducing instrumental tracks at appropriate moments throughout the film. This awareness spills over to the cinematography which boasts an array of interesting camera shots and well lit sets.
Where Orbiter 9 really slips up is with its characters. Alex and Helena are barely given any time to flesh their characters out before they’re thrust into one another’s lives and begin falling for one another and when main antagonist Hugo (Andrés Parra) shows up he’s barely given two lines or any real motivation before being forcedinto the villainous role he depicts. Whether this be the fault of the scriptwriters or even the way Orbiter 9 is edited, this sci-fi flick gives little reason for us to care or become invested in anyone on screen, devaluing the effectiveness of some of the important thematic messages at play here.
Orbiter 9 is a really disappointing film to watch. The pieces are here, somewhere, for a really well written, clever Spanish sci-fi flick but the execution is lacking at best. The plot twists come at the most inappropriate times, overshadowing important characterisation needed to become invested in the characters and their journeys. The cinematography is solid throughout making this all the more frustrating to review as a good array of camera angles and clever use of audio combine to certainly make this an artistically sound film. Those after a cleverly written sci-fi thriller may be left disappointed as Orbiter 9 fails to back up its promising premise and clever plot twists with characters worth investing in.