The warmth of love is tested by the coldness of space in Nguyen-Anh Nguyen’s Hyperlight – Hyperlight review
Imagine waking up in space, drifting isolated in a pod with enough power to go save your significant other or make it back your ship. Or watch the first minute of Nguyen-Anh Nguyen’s film, Hyperlight. Hyperlight is a sci-fi dramatic short film that takes place in 2098 and follows Emilia Newton’s (Jeananne Goossen) journey to understand the unforeseen ramifications of faster than light travel and the merging of alternate realities and save her boyfriend Philip Maeda (Peter Shinkoda).
After saving Maeda from drifting in space with a masterful command of her space pod, Newton brings Maeda to the med bay to heal him but all of the diagnostics report no vital signs. Newton checks with the ships AI to report on the ship and crew’s status, and as she thought, only her and Maeda are alive. Then some sort of lifeform is reported to be heading her way, she prepares for it, but it gets the jump on her. Luckily, the lifeform is actually Maeda, albeit a different Maeda than the unconscious one in the med bay. After recognizing each other, Newton and the other Maeda attempt to make sense of their situation concluding the reason Newton’s Maeda appears to have no vitals is due to the other Maeda already existing in this reality and the reason she is conscious and alive is that this reality’s Newton had died. Now Newton and this reality’s Maeda must finish repairing the ship the this reality’s Newton had died from.
Hyperlight is an example of how good storytelling has a big impact. It has that Oscar-movie quality where characters are the focus more than the spectacle. This is doubly impressive considering the sci-fi genre that is usually almost always focused on the greater world/universe. The visuals all serve to make you feel like you are inside the world, rather than show it to you from an outside perspective. The immersion is further enhanced by the cinematography, which uses a lot of tight shots that connect you to the characters and enhance the feeling of being stuck in a space station. I was personally very fond of the opening sequence inside the drifting space pods because it heightened the intensity of the situation. The production is spectacular, creating a very immersive experience that makes you want to delve further into the world.
But the production itself is brought to life by the performances. Jeananne Goossen, as Emilia Newton, carries the film from start to finish. Newton is faced with tough, life-changing calls, and makes quick decisive decisions. Despite the speed in which she reacts, the calculations and emotional drain are not lost. Her first decision to risk her life to save the drifting and unconscious Maeda was ill-advised, but she chose to act despite the odds. Her final decision is a little harder to pinpoint. I won’t say what it is, as I don’t want to ruin the ending, but this decision seems to have been made early far before it was choices were even prevented. Peter Shinkoda, as Philip Maeda, is an amazing supporting actor. It’s also a nice change of pace to see Mr. Shinkoda in a more dramatic focus – not to say we don’t love his action focused performances. He does spend the first part of the film unconscious, which is pretty impressive considering how much shaking and jostling he goes through. I mean no eye twitches or facial reactions at all. But when he comes in as the other Maeda, that’s when Shinkoda gets to drop the heavy.
The last thing I want to talk about is how I’m personally just really happy to see Asians in a futuristic Sci-Fi. I mean yes there’s Sulu and Captain Philippa Georgiou, but I honestly can’t think of a sci-fi where there’s more than one Asian. Every science fiction future seems to lack Asian, and minority, populations. I will say Star Trek does seem to have at least a noticeably diverse human populations, but in large most sci-fi seems to be filed with Aeropostale/Ambercombie shoppers. As in lacking, muscle mass, mobility, and minorities. Hyperlight is refreshing because it has an Asian-only onscreen cast from a domestic production, which is pretty much unheard of. And it also isn’t the main purpose of the film. It’s just people in space dealing with parallel dimensions and beyond our comprehension science, who just happen to be Asian.
Nguyen-Anh Nguyen’s Hyperlight is a dramatic sci-fi short film, that is a refreshing change of pace in the sci-fi genre. It is a shining example of how a good and well-told story is the heart of any movie in any genre. The film is masterfully crafted and brought to life by some truly inspired performances. The only downside is the film’s length. While the film itself is a superbly crafted story, the scale and depth of the world in the film seems underdeveloped in contrast to the rich backstory provided on the site. Having read the site information first, I was left wanting to see more of it play out in the film. So I recommend watching the film first, then reading the information about the world of Hyperlight after. I give Hyperlight a 4/5.
Check out the film and get more information on the project at www.hyperlight.io