Review by: Dave Griffiths
Hollywood seems to have a notion that a sci-fi film needs to a $100+ million budget and be loaded with fancy CGI special effects. What they don’t take in to consideration is the fact that some of the best films in the genre over the years, especially Duncan Jones’ Moon, have been low budget affairs with more detail in the script than the special effects. Now a new film has arrived, and will be opening the 2016 Sci-Fi Film Festival in Sydney, that certainly fits that description… and boy is it a film that you should watch.
Coming from director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy) Equals is set in a future utopian civilisation where people no longer feel emotion. Those that do feel emotion are believed to be ‘infected’ and after seeing the resulting suicides of those who are ‘infected’ the film’s hero Silas (Nicholas Hoult – Mad Max: Fury Road) becomes increasingly worried when he starts to develop feelings for Nia (Kristen Stewart – Twilight).
As Silas is diagnosed as being ‘infected’ he learns from a group that consists of members such as Jonas (Guy Pearce – Iron Man 3) and Bess (Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook) who show him a hidden side of what it means to be ‘infected’.
If you a lover of good sci-fi films then you certainly won’t be disappointed with Equals as what Doremus has done has create an intelligent flick for the genre. While at times the premise sounds similar to Michael Bay’s The Island this is a much smarter film that relies on a decent script rather than huge explosions. While the film is deeply embedded into the sci-fi genre Doremus allows the film to genre-drift with complete ease. At times the film takes on the persona of a Romeo + Juliet style romance while at other times becomes a suspense thriller.
Teaming up with screenwriter Nathan Parker (who also wrote Moon) Doremus allows Equals to become an interesting character study that quickly wins over its audience. While some audience members may be put off by the film’s slow pace others are going to enjoy the journey as they get to know the character of Silas and try to put together the pieces of exactly what is happening to people in this new world. Yes in some ways this film has a more suspenseful side than what Inferno does.
Parker’s good script also allows the two leads to shine in their roles, not surprising when you realise that the filmmakers knew exactly who they wanted in the roles from the very beginning. Hoult brilliantly plays Silas, a character who is discovering emotions for the first time. While his performance is not too dissimilar to what we saw him deliver in Warm Bodies you do get the feeling that here Hoult takes his character acting to a whole different level.
Likewise we see a return to form for Kristen Stewart. While the actress has recently been plagued by personal issues hitting the airwaves many people forget there is a lot more to Stewart than what we saw in Twilight. These people tend to forget the roles she has played played over the years where she goes deep into a character, think The Runaways, so it is always a pleasant surprise to see her play characters like Nia where she really has to bring her A-Game. While many may think playing an emotionless character would be easy, think again… this is probably one of the hardest things an actor/actress can do so both Hoult and Stewart deserve credit for their work here.
Equals is a sensational low budget sci-fi that is enhanced by the work of one of the best screenwriters going around, Nathan Parker. Just like Moon this film is slow-moving but manages to captivate as it takes its audience on a thought-provoking journey. Equals is a must for lovers of serious, well-delivered sci-fi.
Equals is the opening night film of the 2016 Sci-Fi Film Festival.