I have to say that what’s great about Chris Maes’ sci-fi thriller, Hemisphere, is that sci-fi is firmly in the hands of independent filmmakers. We find ourselves in the far distant future in a space station on the dark side of Mercury. The four-person crew of the Altra Mira has come up missing. No communication and no sign of life.
On Earth, Sandra (Paige Rion), a forensic investigator, is hired by her husband’s firm, which runs the station, to go there and find out what happened to its crew. Sandra reluctantly agrees and instantly finds that corporate bureaucracy is already impeding her investigation.
Relegated to a small unrestricted area, Sandra finds evidence of a hijacking, the remains of one of the crew members and the ship’s AI Computer (known as AVERI) with the last several days of logs have suddenly disappeared.
One of the crew members, Phoebe (Julie Kashmanian), is hiding within the ducts. She confirms that hijackers attacked the ship and helps Sandra piece the story together, but, of course, something isn’t right, and Sandra is not entirely sure she can trust Phoebe.
What I admire most about Hemisphere is filmmaker Maes’ attempt to create a futuristic space station out of nothing and on an indie budget. The space exteriors are created entirely with CG special effects, beautifully compositing a starfield with Mercury off in the distance, a fully realized space station, and finally, a shuttle carrying our protagonist, Sandra. It’s not quite Star Wars-level animation, but it’s good nonetheless.
“The four-person crew of the Altra Mira has come up missing. No communication and no sign of life.”
The build of the interior is just as impressive…for a low-budget indie. It’s essentially an open office with a space station overlay. Hemisphere put just enough space stuff to look like a space station. All great use of CG to blend the real with the fantastical.
As a story, we are placed in the shoes of our investigator, Sandra. In the first act, Sandra is alone, and we’re right there, searching carefully at every turn of the corner, yet this is a space crime procedural…so we follow the evidence.
The second act adds Phoebe to the mix, and now it’s a bit of interrogation and a bit of who-do-you-trust. Here, clues are discovered, and a few are dropped, leading to uncovering the mystery.
Without spoilers, there’s always the mystery within the mystery. The other revelation plays out well, thanks to Chris Maes’ screenplay. It relies more on drama than it does the actual mystery. In other words, I wish there had been more clues leading up to this point that would have pointed to the conclusion of both the first and second mysteries. I’m being intentionally vague here. I hope you get the point.
Lastly, Hemisphere may not look like a multi-million dollar sci-fi tale, but damn if I wasn’t reminded a lot of the early days of Dr. Who when I was a wee lad in the 70s. It’s a low-budget sci-fi thriller with a lot of heart.
For more information about Hemisphere, visit the Trujillo Creek Films website.