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'Stowaway' Review With Casey And Oscars Recap

Shalayne Smith Needham: Flix at 48 is up next with our film critic Casey T. Allen. Hi, Casey.

Casey Allen: We're back together. 

Shalayne Smith Needham: Yes, we are. And it was a big weekend in Hollywood with the Annual Academy Awards. And we're going to come back to the Oscars in a minute. First, you have a review for us this week. What did you see?


Casey Allen: Stowaway was released on April 22 and is currently available for streaming on Netflix. Watching this film made me feel like a senior citizen in that it bored me to the point of drowsiness. I also felt like a senior citizen during this film because I kept thinking of "the good old days" of the past when films were better.


In Stowaway, a three-person crew on a space shuttle to Mars is pushed to the brink when they discover a fourth person hidden on their spacecraft after they have already left Earth. With only a limited amount of oxygen and food for the astronauts, they take sobering steps toward survival. But survival is usually impossible without sacrifice. DRAMA!

Stowaway starts out well enough with an interesting premise on the psychological interplay between people bound by isolation but pushed apart by conflict. I started thinking Stowaway could be another psychological science-fiction film like the haunting Solaris (both the 1972 and 2002 versions) or the wistfully solemn Moon (2009). But Stowaway avoids anything dynamic, creative, or exciting.

A good film (whether it's set in space or on Earth) should have emotional peaks and valleys, or incisive dialogue, or twists and surprises. Stowaway has none of this. Instead, it's filled with closeups of Anna Kendrick's (A Simple Favor, 2018) concerned face, bad explanations of anti-gravity (and other) technology, and zero character development (unless you consider characters starting out excited and then turning nervous as development).

Brazilian director and co-screenwriter Joe Penna created such a gracefully tense survival drama with the 2018 film Arctic (starring the always underrated Mads Mikkelsen). Hopefully, Penna can find something inspired for his next project, because Stowaway is not it.

Shalayne Smith Needham: This is definitely not a recommendation on this one


Casey Allen: I'm continuing to believe that everything released by Netflix is not a guaranteed good film.

Shalayne Smith Needham: Well Casey, now I want to get your thoughts on the Oscars. This year was obviously different. Due to COVID ceremony was broadcast from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles rather than the Dolby Theatre. What were some surprises for the evening?


Casey Allen: I was surprised at how intimate it was. It was surprisingly intimate from beginning to end having such a smaller venue and also not including very many segments or clips of the film's nominated. Instead, we got small monologues about each of the nominees and their backgrounds. So I think the academy decided to do that in an attempt to be a bit more intimate, a bit more personable, and relatable during the pandemic.


I'm not sure it worked out though, for every category. There were some categories that I thought “that was a nice touch,” but others that felt awkward and forced. The only big surprises I felt were Best Actor and Actress. I was very surprised that both of those actors won since neither of them had received any other awards earlier this year during the award season. So those were big surprises in my jaw literally fell open when I heard their names.


Shalayne Smith Needham: Something else unexpected, they announced the Best Picture in the middle of the ceremony and save the Best Actor award to close out the show. What do you think the Academy decided to change the order?


Casey Allen: That was another weird thing they did and I don't think that was very successful. I think they planned to do it that way because I think they were expecting Chadwick Boseman to receive Best Actor. I know. That's what I was expecting. That's what my friends were expecting who were watching with me. And I think the Academy was hoping to use that moment of Chadwick Boseman being awarded to have like a nice sort of in memoriam moment for his life and work. Which I thought would have been a very nice touch to close out the ceremony, but that didn't happen. That was far too risky of a gamble now that we know what happened. And so the ceremony ended kind of on an awkward lull instead of this triumphant bit of inspired, you know, tribute. So that was unfortunate.


Shalayne Smith Needham: Overall, what's your take for the night?


Casey Allen: I was happy with it. I was happy it still happened even though it was much different than before. It was sad Anthony Hopkins was not present to receive the best actor. But I was happy that so many different actors and craftsmen of color were highlighted throughout the evening. And my favorite part of the ceremony every year is the In Memoriam segment and that was far too accelerated. I don't know why they did it that way. I don't think there was a time crunch. But that's the only reason I can think of inspired them to do that. Overall, though, I thought it was fine. Not the most memorable, but it was fine.


Shalayne Smith Needham: All right, Casey, thank you so much for being here and talking movies with us and we'll look forward to talking to you next week.


Casey Allen: I will be ready.


Casey T. Allen is a native of Utah who graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree in English in 2007. He has worked in many capacities throughout USU campus and enjoys his time at UPR to continually exercise his writing.