Viking ★★½

“Fuckin’ John.”

The lunacy of taking a dumb bullshit job too seriously.

The lunacy of believing in a mission to an utterly inhospitable Mars, when we are so completely unable to function as people with one another right here in the world we’re actually evolved to live in.

When protagonist David meets another “John Shepard” from another team during the Viking space probe retrieval exercise, and David’s Viking space probe is just a fucking trashcan while the other team’s space probe is a much nicer prop... that killed me. David’s team is not only not unique, they might not even be the “B Team” to the actual “A team” currently on Mars. Considering David’s team’s janky ass spacesuits, silly props, and the broom closet aesthetic of their habitat, there’s a suggestion that David might even be the D or F “John Shepard”.

Anyway, this is well done and good fun. Not really funny, which is fine, but also not particularly insightful, which is also fine. I briefly thought we might really get rolling after David forces the captain from her post in a democratic vote and then takes command of the mission, revealing his fascistic "efficient" personality beneath the silent soulfulness he'd been projecting, but the movie takes a subtler tack after that.

Even though there’s a lot of automatic built-in meaning and submerged thematics that comes with telling the story of a group of people who are really just an echo of another cast that's (virtually) forever off camera, I'm not sure the movie mined any of its concepts to their fullest satirical, comedic, and/or meaningful potential. But its inoffensive and engaging.

Protagonist David, of course, learns it’s better here on earth than off in some theoretical, high-minded science fiction story, which is to be expected from this kind of affair, but we can’t fault the movie for suggesting we should be better stewards of the planet and to be more present for the people we have right here at home.

Fun soundtrack.

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