THE LAST SCOUT

5 out of 10

Release date: TBC in UK

Director: Simon Phillips (GBH)

Cast: Blaine Gray, Rebecca Ferdinando, Deji LaRay, Simon Phillips, Rita Ramnani, Paul Thomas Arnold, Mercedes Synodis, Kevin Chua, John Chang with Petra Bryant and Peter Woodward

Writer: Paul Tanter

Trailer: THE LAST SCOUT

The-Last-Scout-Simon-Phillips-Movie-Poster

Those waiting for Hooligans in Space or Essex Astronauts will have to wait a bit longer. Filmmaker enfants awfulles: Simon Phillips and Paul Tanter, have delivered a grown-up (mature not porno) attempt at movie entertainment and I am happy to report that this is largely enjoyable, as it takes more risks and scores more hits than misses. At times, some concepts and ideas fall wide of the mark, but this largely straight-faced sci-fi thriller is a good place holder until the big boys like Alien 5 and Life arrive. In a word, it commits minor crimes but no atrocities.

The characters are largely ciphers, but are invested with some warmth and conviction by a varied cast of unknowns and Brit-pic heroes. Some of the crew are stock-types but at least some attempt has been made to flesh them out. How these guys are humanity’s last hope is anybody’s guess though.  As we know, the training for the rigours of life and the isolation of space travel take years of training for and the psychometric testing is intense, so half of these loonies wouldn’t have been let within three planets of an airlock. Seven years into a mission to secure the future of humanity when the Earth’s population is decimated by a nuclear war, The Pegasus is one of the last remaining space ships on a mission to find a habital planet – Interstellar-style.  The shipmates consist of go-to characters like the doomed captain (BLAINE GRAY – ABDUCTED) who is haunted by the death of his wife, who was on another scout ship who’s mission failed<?>, yet he’s a level-headed type who the crew generally look up to for answers. There’s the chirpy engineer, a winsome Simon Phillips (STAGGER), who also directs the movie this time as opposed to producing partner Paul Tanter (who wrote the script). Phillips has the plum role and rarely grates beyond an excrutiating opening dialogue with Space Cowboy pilot Mike (DEJI DELARAY – ABDUCTED), about who loves the ship the most and lost screws (yes not shags – real screws). We get to hear this exchange twice, but no spoilers allowed! Rebecca Ferdinando (HE WHO DARES) and Rita Raminani (HEDDA GABBLER) have strong roles as the ships pilot and doctor, both share some good moments and they frequently come to the fore. More confusing, are the prickly characters; terminally ill, passenger (his role is unclear) Gerry (PAUL THOMAS ARNOLD) would have been blasted out into space by the crew after an hour or two let alone seven years. He is a xenophobic, selfish liability that Arnold does wonders with as  his motivations are thin and his reason for being there seems to be to add friction to the dynamic and nothing else – a dodgy role saved by good acting. More worrying is the usually dependable Peter Woodward (SHAME THE DEVIL) who runs into strife in a role that’s little more than a scribble in the margins – he just has to be an arsehole with an important job, but he hams it up a little too much as if he’s in a competition.  Acting awards go to Gray and LaRay for their effortless turns . Phillips is also better than he’s been in his Hooligan comedies. So he can file this with his cameo in The Disappearance of Lenka Wood and his heist botching doofus in Dangerous Mind of a Hooligan.

The special effects aren’t very special, and to mention this seems like a pointless ‘pop’ at the makers but whilst you wouldn’t send humanity’s last hope into space in a set that looks like the Laser Quest in Slough circa 1993, it’s the acting, the story and some spirited acting which will keep you on board until the end.

PS: How did they afford Morgan Freeman to the do the voice over intro…? (nice impression Paul! or was it Simon?)

5 out of 10 – A good diversion, and a welcome addition to the men/women on a mission through space cannon. Good performances rescue this from the dustbin and it is lightyears better than the Essex hardmen DVDs that hog space usually reserved for tampons at Tesco.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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