Project Eden: Vol. 1 Review
Project Eden: Vol. 1 is a sci-fi thriller about an ex-military officer and a young woman who becomes an unwitting fugitive after discovering that her son’s catatonic state may be at the heart of a global conspiracy.
It might seem a little bold to put the number of a planned series right in the title of your film, especially given the fickle nature of the target audience, but nonetheless, Ashlee Jensen and Terrance M. Young‘s latest sci-fi mystery Project Eden: Vol. 1 does just that, and while there is no taking away from the filmmakers earnest attempt to build the starting chapter in an epic story, it’s probably going to be hard to justify going forward with the next part. Granted, despite its motivations and potential for social commentary, it can’t quite reach the heights it strives for.
Set in an alternative time after the September 11th attack, where the threat of further terrorism leaves a population at the whim of a government that has essentially shut the country down, we meet Evelyn Green (Emily Fradenburgh), a widow whose husband was killed in action and left her pregnant. When her son Thomas (Koby Pivec) is born, he is catatonic, and for six years, show no signs of emerging from this darkness. Experts at the facility where he’s held suggest euthanasia. Meanwhile, she is visited in the night by a breathless Ethan Varick (Peter Christian Hansen), who tells her he has a daughter like her son, and that all is not what she believes. This puts ruthless FBI agent David Roth (Mike Dopud) on her tail as she and Ethan go on the run in search of the truth, one that could break a conspiracy and ultimately change humanity.
This is a film you want to like, mostly because it has truly lofty ambitions and works very hard to keep you wondering what is going on. However, the result is an often disjointed experience, plague by lackluster direction and a generic approach to the genre. At the heart is a vast conspiratorial tapestry of intrigue that reaches the highest levels of government, and the film’s global presence does help in giving it some breadth, but the small production and uneven cast eventually can’t help but expose its limitations.
Credit must be given to tackling some pressing themes, even if they do feel a little outdated, with citizens embedded with chips and medications and therapy aligned with government control. There’s a solid story here as the United States takes on a kind of fascist state where crossing state borders means medical papers and inspection. I liked the filmmakers attempts at building a believable new world where Jensen and Young occasionally deliver some questions that need answers. Any good sci-fi should have some challenge. Unfortunately, it can’t help but fall into some ruts, putting the film on a familiar track where a number of clichés weigh it down.
Project Eden: Vol. 1 certainly has the ingredients and fans of the genre may find plenty to make it worth a watch. Fradenburgh is game and does mostly good work though Hansen lacks the charisma necessary to be the rebellious hero. He’s never quite gritty enough. The movie also pads its 90 minute runtime with a few forced moments that trip up the pace, though every once in a while, there’s some surprisingly effective imagery, especially in some select dream sequences. Naturally, it all comes down to a heated climax that leaves it all hanging on a cliffhanger, and I suspect many may be curious where it will go, though most will surely move on.
Project Eden: Vol. 1 Review
Movie description: Project Eden: Vol. 1 is a sci-fi thriller about an ex-military officer and a young woman who becomes an unwitting fugitive after discovering that her son's catatonic state may be at the heart of a global conspiracy.
Director(s): Ashlee Jensen, Terrance M. Young
Actor(s): Emily Fradenburgh, Peter Christian Hansen, Mike Dopud
Genre: Sci-fi, Action