Three astronomers accidentally intercept what they believe to be a signal from a distant alien civilization, but the truth is even more incredible than any of them could have imagined.
Written and directed by brothers Elliot and Zander Weaver, Cosmos is a new science-fiction feature, heavy on science and surprisingly low in budget. Shot over the course of a month primarily in a garage, these first-time directors and small cast made a superb mystery science feature. This epic indie movie that was five years in the making is currently available worldwide on nearly all VOD platforms starting November 8th.
Set in 1998 Britain, three friends — Roy (Arjun Singh Panam), Harry (Joshua Ford), and Mike (Tom England) — head up to a hilltop to watch a giant asteroid, dubbed the QE2, that is due to pass relatively close to the earth. As both professional scientists and amateur stargazers, they cannot miss this opportunity and head out overnight to scan the sky and airwaves. While studying the airwaves after sending a random message into space, they hear a voice through the static that leads them to believe it is an alien signal. We are not afraid, we are listening. Elated, they contact other stations in order to confirm, however, the other outposts only hear static. Believing that they may be the only ones meant to hear the message, they use their limited equipment to record, prove, and share the greatest discovery of mankind. Their discovery of the first contact with other beings will change the course of the earth’s future and our understanding of man’s existence.
This story is well written, the film is well shot, and the score is great for the most part though a little sappy and over-dramatic towards the end. With every aspect having been run through these first-time directors this is truly a great accomplishment by the Weave brothers. The dynamic between the trio of friends adds tension to the plot — there is a feeling of isolation and loneliness that comes off of their interplay that goes perfectly with a film about space. Roy and Harry having their friendship tested as newcomer Mike seemingly puts a wedge between them is a great visualization against shots of the expanse of a sky full of stars, which any stargazer will be familiar with the humbling feeling of smallness and isolation in our unfathomably large galaxy.
Cosmos has the heart and humor of a Steven Spielberg film and the sci-fi and cosmological wonder of a J.J. Abrams film; a barebones kind sci-fi with big ideas like Primer (2004) though not quite as heavy on technical talk, and a vibe of awe and discovery similar to Mike Cahill’s Another Earth (2011). Towards the end, it suddenly pumps in the intensity and action of a Michael Bay film to a level this is almost comical, but it also makes the movie more fun, and overall, it has a lot to offer audiences. My only real gripe about the film is that the brothers could have edited themselves more. The movie is 2 hours, which is rather long for a debut feature-length with no budget. It drags until an hour in, and everything before that is conversational dialogue. Most of the character development and interesting events happen in the second half, so if you do not know that the good parts are coming there is not much motivation to keep watching. However, when the movie does hit its groove, its adventurous spirit becomes contagious; I was happy finishing the movie once the story took a turn from Science and headed more into the fiction.
It is a nearly no-budget film, and it puts some other Hollywood projects to shame with what it accomplished; it is a special film for this aspect alone, a good example of if you have the passion and believe in your talent that you can go out and make a film. It might not be able to stand toe to toe with other first contact films, such as Close Encounters… or Arrival as far as entertainment, but it takes influences from different directors and movies while still having its own style and story to tell — this movie is a must see. I am very impressed with what the Weaver brothers have created with Cosmos and anyone who has a special place in their hearts for science-y sci-fi’s or is nostalgic for buddy-adventure type films from the 80s will be awarded with a great watch.
Elliot Weaver, Zander Weaver
Elliot Weaver, Zander Weaver