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Space Tensions and Clichés: A Candid Review of 'I.S.S. (2024)

Tensions flare in the near future aboard the International Space Station as a conflict breaks out on Earth. Reeling, the U.S. and Russian astronauts receive orders from the ground: take control of the station by any means necessary.




Ah, "I.S.S.", the movie that dared to venture where only a few hundred cinematic space odysseys have ventured before—into the great, unfathomable void. Yet, somehow, it still felt like a journey to the corner store: somewhat exciting, but you know what you’re going to get. With Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, and John Gallagher Jr. strapped in for this interstellar drama, one might expect a celestial masterpiece. Instead, we got a space opera that had me yearning for the simplicity of a black hole where plot predictability could disappear forever.


The plot thrusts us into the near future, aboard the International Space Station, where tensions flare—not because someone used the last of the almond milk, but due to a slightly more pressing matter: a conflict breaking out on Earth. The U.S. and Russian astronauts are then given a kindergarten-esque directive: take control of the station, by any means necessary. I mean, what could possibly go wrong when you mix claustrophobia, national pride, and a vague mission statement?


What I liked: I'll admit, "I.S.S." did have its moments where my popcorn chewing slowed to a halt, and I was genuinely engrossed in the tension unfolding. The twists were about as surprising as finding out your "mystery" vacation destination is your in-laws' place, but hey, anticipation has its charms. Plus, I’m a sucker for SciFi, and on paper, "I.S.S." had the potential to be the love child of "Gravity" and "Interstellar." Instead, it felt more like their third cousin twice removed—the one you awkwardly bump into at family reunions.


What I hated: Let's talk about the elephant in the spacecraft—languages without subtitles. The director's choice to plunge us into a linguistic black hole might've aimed to mimic the astronauts' confusion, but all it did was leave me craving a Rosetta Stone sponsorship. And ah, the Russians. Our go-to celestial adversaries since Sputnik first beeped. The film’s attempt to mirror current geopolitical tensions was as subtle as a comet crashing into your living room. Lastly, the ending. If I had a nickel for every time Hollywood botched a perfectly good buildup with a lackluster finale, I’d have enough to launch my own space station—with better plot twists.


A little trivia for the cinephiles: Nick Shafir’s screenplay made it onto the "Black List" of 2020's most-liked unproduced screenplays. A badge of honor that, in this case, might have been more prestigious than the film it birthed. Its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 12, 2023, was the cinematic equivalent of a SpaceX launch: much anticipation, followed by a collective, "Oh, that’s it?"


Now, for the ranking—drum-roll, please—6.6/10. Why, you ask? Because despite its gravitational pull towards cliché and predictability, "I.S.S." still managed to keep me entertained in my seat, guessing what recycled twist would come next. And isn’t entertainment what we're all here for? Plus, any movie that can make me yearn for the cold, empty void of space over the reality of current world politics deserves some credit.


In the spirit of space exploration, let's launch this review into the social media stratosphere with #ISSMovie #SpaceDrama #SciFiCinema #ArianaDeBose #ChrisMessina #JohnGallagherJr #MovieNight #HollywoodInSpace #CinematicOdyssey #FilmCritique #SpaceOnScreen.


May it orbit the digital universe, gathering likes and retweets like a black hole collects stars.


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