In the year 2069, a freshman on a summer break from his college on the planet Mars, returns to his home space colony. While there he gets involved in a romance with a Hispanic girl named Dominica, only for the relationship to garner the attention of the local bigots in Mike Gallant’s Terra Beach.
Science fiction as an allegory has been used many times over the years by writers and filmmakers as a mirror you can put up against human nature and society to reflect and shine a light on the hidden truths of the world we live in. An allegory is a tool that helps us examine the way we are and ask ourselves the questions that audiences couldn’t tolerate or wouldn’t allow themselves to consider through more realistic settings. From War of The Worlds through 1984 to Fahrenheit 451, science fiction has been the literature of ideas, beliefs, and politics and more often than not the only genre to regularly approach these themes with great commercial success.
Mike Gallant’s Terra Beach is another successful chapter in the “Sci-Fi as an allegory” cannon and Gallant deserves a lot of credit for pulling off a beautiful-looking film with a real political edge. Terra Beach would not look out of place had it been directed by Neil Blomkamp, whose visual style and flair this film reminds me of; Gallant’s ability to capture the beauty of the colony and then contrast it with the ugliness of its people’s racism is certainly something to behold.
Opening with a cynically sardonic sentence from our lead character Mitch (played by Andrew Yackel) “This may come as a shock, but 50 years from now, Earth goes to shit.” It’s a pretty definitive statement and is briefly explained by telling us it was all thanks to wars, seas rising due to climate change, and according to Mitch’s mum, liberals, and foreigners. The opening 2 minutes gives us a full picture of the world we are currently inhabiting.
This future world that Gallant has created is a real highlight; the cinematography by Marcello Peschiera gives us a lush and rich environment where the use of primary colours like reds, blues, and greens all combine to highlight the rural surroundings of hills, mountains, lakes, seas, and desert tracks. The world is filled with spaceships, space stations, hoverboards, and hover cars, and each character has implants that allow them to translate languages, take messages, and teleport to different areas, while also doubling up as weapons creating a sort of digital knuckle duster. I can’t praise enough the FX work by Gallant and the entire visual effects team at Pixel Piranhas INC, they are absolutely superb. A lot of thought has gone into the creation of this colony and this world, and you can see it all up there on the screen.
Meanwhile, the soundtrack by Sean Pearson is suitably sparse and uplifting, reminiscent of Moby’s work on the movie Heat. The performances from all of the cast are strong across the board. The love story between Yackel’s Mitch and Elizabeth Ruiz’s fiery Dominica is thoroughly believable with real chemistry from them both on show. A special mention also to Hollywood regular Noel Gugliemi, who you may know from Training Day and The Fast And Furious franchise, he puts in a tremendously intense-yet-tender performance as Miguel.
During a time of regular, special effect-laden spectacles, Terra Beach stands out, not only because its budget was minuscule in comparison, but also because of the scope and intensity of the world we are visiting outstrip many of those same multi-million dollar productions we have seen on the cinema screen. Yet despite all of this world-building and the top-notch visual fx on show, Terra Beach is just as rewarding in its quieter, more paired down moments. It may not win points for the originality of its story but it will certainly win 5 stars and numerous awards for the quality and the imagination of the world that has been created. I highly recommend you see Terra Beach as soon as possible and, if you can, try to catch it on the biggest screen possible.