Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Spaceship Earth

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Copyright: NEON

Marching eight former hippies into a self-made biodome to test whether or not they would work on the moon seems like the type of idea you have at four in the morning whilst high on Lucozade. Spaceship Earth documents such a thought process, and details the interest a small group kindled n experimentation. It soon devolves, the press and public wondering whether there are cultist motives in their underlying, two-year experiment. The inside of the dome fared even worse, with irreparable ecological damage and a strain of will, frustration among a group as they struggled to build a long-term life system that could potentially open up new avenues for moon colonisation.

Most of Spaceship Earth is lost to boring, unfiltered talking heads. Detailing the creation of a biosphere that ended up getting severely out of hand should’ve been a thoroughly engaging, tightly driven time. Instead, we’re lost to the actual structure of the system, rather than how exactly the breakdown of Biosphere 2 occurred. We spend an hour looking into the morale between the group and their build-up, with bland shots, some copyright free music and a cheap feel to the way the story unfolds on the whole.

By the time the documentary has heaved itself through its uninteresting build-up, Spaceship Earth rattles through the various highs and lows of its actual experiment as quickly as it can. The pacing is all over the place, an interesting story turns into a boring shuffle through a checklist of expected discussions. The talking heads of those who were in the biosphere express their discomfort at how the media turned their experiment into a “game show” that depleted any scientific resolutions. As interesting a point as that is, Spaceship Earth does falls into a cycle of doing the same thing, pandering further to the controversy surrounding it and only giving a brief few moments to the impact an experiment like this can have on a group of people.

Such an interesting premise could probably fill up a light-hearted episode of a Netflix documentary series, but clocking in at two hours leaves a floundering documentary that struggles to find focus. We repeat the same few points continuously, interviews that can be sourced from YouTube for those interested, news clips that express a short-lived public interest in eight individuals who had full dedication and belief in their experiment. Usually, experiments that go wrong are rather interesting, but in this instance, Spaceship Earth misses the mark of identifying its interesting moments. We’re shown a story popular within news circuits, but we’re never told why, and it’s not all that obvious what the interesting aspect is meant to be for this documentary. Still, at least they put a bit of Talking Heads on the soundtrack, all is not lost.