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  • Cargo (2009) | Review

    SXSW FILM 2010

    By | April 4, 2010

    Directors: Ivan Engler, Ralph Etter

    Writers: Arnold Bucher, Ivan Engler, Patrik Steinmann

    Starring: Anna Katharina Schwabroh, Martin Rapold, Regula Grauwiller, Yangzorn Brauen, Michael Finger, Pierre Semmler, Claude Oliver Rudolph, Giles Tschudi

    Cargo takes place in the year 2267 where Earth has become uninhabitable by man because of environmental deterioration. The human race now populates overcrowded space stations orbiting the Earth as they dream of being able to afford the trip to live on the distant Earth-like planet, Rhea. A terrorist group known as the “Machine Strikers” is threatening the corporate run operations because they question the intentions and truths of what they are being told.

    Needing the money in order to fulfill her trip to Rhea, we meet Dr. Laura Portmann (Anna-Katharina Schwabroh), who has signed up with Kuiper Enterprises to take a job on-board the cargo ship Kassandra. Kassandra is on an eight-year journey to reach space station #42 in RH278’s planetary orbit, and return back to Earth’s orbit. On Kassandra, each crew member spends the majority of the automated flight in cryo-sleep while one designated person monitors the operations of the ship for an 8.5 month shift. Additional security personnel lead by Samuel Decker (Martin Rapold) are aboard Kassandra because of the heightened terrorist threat from the “Machine Strikers”.

    Dr. Portmann is nearing the end of her lengthy shift when she begins to experience the feeling of being watched and hearing sounds coming from inside the cargo bay of the ship. Due to the situation, Laura’s colleagues are awoken from cryo-sleep so the crew can investigate the dark recesses of the the frigid cargo bay. Dark and grisly discoveries are soon made as deaths begin to surface and trust diminishes while Portmann and Decker uncover the real destination of Kassandra and what secret cargo she carries.

    Cargo is the Swiss import from first time feature directors Ivan Engler and Ralph Etter with quite a lot of European sensibilities and Hollywood familiarities. For me Cargo was the 2nd most disappointing film of SXSW FILM 2010 only after Strummerville. A snail’s pace would have been an improvement when it comes to the pacing in Cargo, as the yawn factor was crippling any sense of suspense that the film was attempting to create. Cargo creeps by as if time is standing still through much of the approximate 2 hour run. I’m a fan of the slow and steady Sci-fi films (Moon, Solaris, Alien, Sunshine), but when the character development is lacking and the story is hindered, it’s hard to hold my attention on “mostly” impressive visuals alone.

    On that note I can’t walk away from this review without giving credit where credit is due, because the filmmakers really pulled out some fairly spectacular design work with the modest budget of 5 million Swiss francs (Less than 5 million US). The set design and many of the post visuals alone are worth giving it a try to see if this is your kind of Sci-fi, but don’t expect to experience anything new that hasn’t been done before. Unapologetic and unashamed, Cargo borrows from the genre while going backward instead of forward.

    Rating: 2/10

    Topics: Film Reviews, News | 3 Comments »

    • Matthew

      I have my views yes 2 sounds a bit hash mor like 3 the reason why I rated it 7 is that the film is bast on a future that called be. If any reason the earth did die, then we would in any case find a way that is similar to this out come. I do agree with the fact not much of the film made sence. What happened to those two guys did they make alive or did they run out of time. It would of been better if this story had more planing and more time into it. My rating is 7 the movie rating 3.

    • Alexcunn1234

      Who woke up Lindbergh at the end from her cryo sleep? They kept saying someone had to manually wake people from the cryo sleep, so who did it? 
      Why did the Kassandra need to use full thrusters all the time? Assuming it fairly quickly reaches full velocity it wouldn’t need thrust during the 4 year voyage right?
      Why would 2 jetpacks be better than 1?  Wouldn’t they be weightless and therefore the thrust from 1 jetpack would be enough to move both of them?  
      When the Kassandra started up while attached to the Rhea station, it sent a huge blast wave knocking Decker away, why didn’t it do that when it started up in the beginning of the movie?  Is it possible for the Kassandra to take off from an orbiting station like it did without its thrust pushing against the station and altering the station’s orbit?  
      If Rhea was just a simulation why would they need to fly through space for 4 years to store bodies by the actual planet instead of just keeping them in cargo tanks somewhere much closer?  
      Why was it impossible to wake Portmann’s sister from the simulation?  
      The entire cargo container was full of snow and ice and they had to wear a lot of cold weather gear to enter it, how would rotating the cargo keep it from freezing? 
      Why did Portmann’s message play to everyone on the Earth station?  
      What good does it do to destroy the communications antenna on Rhea?  If their goal was to open everyone’s eyes to the condition of Earth and the simulation of Rhea, how does cutting off the people trapped in the simulation accomplish anything?

      Does this movie make any sense at all?

    • Osasunaitor

      Most of your questions are legit, and I asked them myself as well. But the one that bothers me the most is: Why would the Kassandra need a crew during its trip, if the ship travels in full autopilot mode and the Station 42 is fully automated as well?? Because carrying a crew not only is unnecessary, but it can also easily lead to trouble (as it effectively happens in the film). It’s quite a stupid move from Kuiper’s side to take the risk of a crew discovering the truth.

      I firstly thought the answer might have been related to the recent terrorist attacks on other stations, but that’s just the reason for Decker being there. All other crewmembers were assigned regardless of the attacks, including Laura.

      On a positive side, I must admit that the visuals were quite stunning. At least they kept me distracted from the illogical storyline and the inexpressive face of the main actress. I was unable to identify any emotions in her face throughout the entire film.