Movie Review – Ascension (2015)

Ascension
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: October 13, 2015

ascension

*While ASCENSION is technically a miniseries from SyFy Channel, I am labeling it as a movie for review purposes, as SyFy did not turn it into a season-long series.

I’ve heard many people complain about SyFy Channel, saying they show very little science fiction these days. While that might be true, SyFy Channel still knows what us genre fans like, and they deliver when they can. Such is the case with ASCENSION, a miniseries that debuted on SyFy Channel a while ago. This is one of the most engaging titles we’ve ever been offered from SyFy Channel, and I hope to see more of this quality from them in the future.

If you are not familiar with ASCENSION, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

The sci-fi mystery miniseries “Ascension” offers a truly refreshing premise as it follows a colony of humans halfway into a century-long secret space mission. When a young woman is murdered aboard the U.S. Orion-class spaceship, conflicts arise and the inhabitants question their purpose as the saviors of mankind. Based on the real-life Project Orion that was developed under President John F. Kennedy, “Ascension” boasts deep-orbit drama in a stylized setting—a self-described “Mad Men in space.”

One of the biggest draws of this film is how human drama is set against a genre-specific backdrop. This aspect is also the root of many shows I love: THE WALKING DEAD, BLACK SAILS, and GAME OF THRONES just to name a few. All offer exciting and fantastical elements as a stage on which to play out the more humanistic components of the plot.

ASCENSION is shot well and looks great onscreen. The film spares no expense when it comes to offering what a spacecraft built in the 60s might look like. The attention to detail is fantastic, and it helps to immerse the viewer in the experience.

The acting is also top notch as well. The cast is filled with all-star talent, that includes Tricia Helfer, Gil Bellows, Brian Van Holt, Andrea Roth, Brandon P. Bell, and Brad Carter. If you’ve never heard their names before, chances are you will in the future. The whole cast meshes well together and offers memorable performances.

The special effects in ASCENSION are nice, although I did see a couple of scenes that looked a bit too cartoonish. These particularly occur with the exterior shots of the ship. Still, there’s no denying these effects are better than what we usually see from SyFy, which is a big plus in my book.

The drama, however, is what wins me over here. The description above claims the film is like “Mad Men in space”, and that is the perfect way to describe it. There’s more twists and turns in the plot than in a soap opera. And just when you think you know what’s going to happen, the show turns your assumptions sideways.

ASCENSION is a big win for me, and I highly recommend it. There’s a lot to like here, and SyFy Channel shows us that it is still a relevant station. Check this out for sure.

MSB

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