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The trailer for Approaching the Unknown begins with a somber but inspiring voice explaining what and where the planet Mars is as an equally somber but inspiring shot of a rocket launches into the night sky, all while a decidedly poetic piano lingers over the score. It’s a great start to an intriguing trailer for a film that is coming very soon about a theme we are all very familiar with and one done many times before, but promising a fresh twist.
The lonely man in space trope is a popular one, and it wasn’t just a few months ago we were watching Matt Damon do his best to survive in the big blockbuster The Martian. Now we have Approaching the Unknown, which looks to go more the Moon route and keep this a small, introspective examination of life alone in the stars, although it teases to something beyond what we expect.
Starring Mark Strong, a character actor who might best be known for his recent turn in Kingsman: The Secret Service, he has had many supporting roles in film and television for decades. He plays the man in space, Captain William D. Stanaforth, seemingly carrying the entirety of the film with only the occasional contact from a mission control tech played by Luke Wilson. Interestingly, Wilson appears to be in an uncredited role, while the cast list, for a film about a man alone in space, is pretty large.
Plot details are scarce, being only what we see in the trailer, and the film only recently got distribution via a partnership with Paramount Home Media Distribution and Vertical Entertainment, but the story focuses on a mission that clearly fails. Stanaforth is faced with seemingly impossible odds and forced to make a choice that he feels is actually the reason he came to the great void. Our knee-jerk impulse is to suspect that the Wilson character is not actually real, a hallucination or possibly an entity not of Earth. Just guesses, but we’ve seen enough of these kinds of films to be suspicious.
Written and directed by first time filmmaker Mark Elijah Rosenberg, the curious clip, which has elements of Solaris, The Martian, and the aforementioned Moon, suggests Stanaforth encounters something in space that is, to him, more important than Mars. It’s damaged his ship and while we are meant to question the astronaut’s sanity, here’s hoping that Rosenberg can take this journey to a place we haven’t been and surprise us with wonder.
Approaching the Unknown arrives June 3, 2016
Mark Elijah Rosenberg
Mark Elijah Rosenberg, Mark Elijah Rosenberg
Mark Strong, Sanaa Lathan, Charles Baker, Luke Wilson