HOVER takes place in the near future, where environmental strain has caused food shortages around the world. Technology provides a narrow path forward, with agricultural drones maximizing the yield from what land remains. Two compassionate care providers, Claudia (Coleman) and her mentor John (Craig muMs Grant), work to assist sick farmland inhabitants in ending their lives. After John dies under mysterious circumstances, a group of locals helps Claudia to uncover a deadly connection between the health of her clients and the technology they are using.
June 29th, 2018
Craig Mums Grant
In this case, it’s the former.
So here are a few ways I can sum up my recent experience with the forthcoming SyFy Films flick, Hover.
1) Tale as old as time. A movie centering around corporate greed and said corporation’s making the interests of the human race secondary to profit. Sound original? It’s not.
2) My husband was intrigued by the film early on – but a pending nap took precedent and I was left alone to complete the viewing. If the film had been great, chances are his nap would have been left in the dust. Quite a recommendation.
3) My usual go-to for “less-than” flicks: the quote from Mommie Dearest. “It’s not good!”
The film is basically two separate ideas. And once the second idea takes center stage in act two – the film falls apart. But first, here’s the skinny:
It’s the not-so-distant future… not quite dystopian, but only a few steps away from such a place. Claudia (The Last Man on Earth’s Cleopatra Coleman) works closely with her partner and pseudo-father figure, John (Craig Mums Grant). Together they pound the pavement for a company which basically allows dying citizens to carefully and peacefully end their lives (think a more streamlined and legal version of Dr. Jack Kevorkian). While on assignment in a rural part of the country, clues start to mount when several farmers in the area fall ill. These farmers also all happen to use a specialized drone to assist with their crop-keeping and pest control. Claudia teams up with a couple of locals to solve the mystery.
The pacing is absolutely dreadful. Where it tries to up the ante as far as suspense, it never makes it. And with no true drive at the film’s core – what can one say, but… it’s boring.
On that same note, the score from Wojciech Golczewski is putting in some serious overtime to amp things up in what are meant to be the more tense sequences. I’ve loved his work in recent films like Late Phases and We Are Still Here – and his music here is great too – but at times, it drew too much attention – trying to mask that severe lack of anticipation and tension inherent in the film’s story and the film’s cut.
The lead performance from Cleopatra Coleman is never bad per se, but it also never tips over the edge into pretty good. I find this surprising, as Coleman also penned the script. It feels like a missed opportunity on her part. After all, she could have written Claudia to completely fit in with her abilities as an actor. Again, not a bad performance, but nothing extraordinary.
Prolific character actor Beth Grant shows up at one of the local farmers, who joins Claudia in her quest for answers. It’s a pretty slim part, writing-wise, but I’ll take Beth Grant in any role, all day long. Here, she’s her usual colorful, seemingly bitter character – and a bright spot in an otherwise dim film.
There’s a sequence which includes some very clunky exposition. It makes no sense to have Claudia suddenly sit down with the son of one of her clients, and spill her guts. Look. I’m a screenwriter, and exposition is a tough thing to get just right. I get it. You have to make these character histories nuanced. Don’t let the audience know that they’ve just learned something important. In this case, dropping this avalanche of exposition bricks all at once in this forced conversation – didn’t work in the slightest.
And did I miss something? In the film’s third act, Claudia loses her cold and calculating work-garb and changes into a fresh and airy floral dress and jean jacket. Huh? I didn’t know this character enough to completely understand the need for such a transition – and what it’s meant to symbolize to the character.
Also, we don’t get enough history from Claudia’s character as a whole to really bring out our all-important sympathies. I didn’t care at all for Claudia and therefore – wasn’t sucked into her journey (or lack thereof).
The effects are just fine all the way down to not very effective. The opening sequence showing a very technical ad campaign for the corporations new drones – looked fabulous and had a wonderful tongue-in-cheek quality about it. But many of the clearly “added in post” drone effects never quite make the grade.
Finally, I’m not so certain that robots (unless they’re disguised as humans like in Westworld) can be frightening. Every chase sequence involving the drones coming for the humans were boring as all get out. I was reminded of the ‘80s schlocker, Chopping Mall. Those robot monsters weren’t scary either – just sort of cold and goofy. These drones instilled zero menace and therefore, zero fear.
Had Hover stuck to the initial idea of a futuristic “suicide service” and gone in some sort of supernatural route, instead of the tired and traveled path of “greedy corporations don’t care about us” – it might have scored higher. The film is decently produced (with a few exceptions) but it is too disjointed and boring to make any kind of impact.
In fact, at the film’s promising outset (as we learned about the “transition/suicide” service), I would have started my scoring at 3 ½ stars. As the film went on, I saw the score drop… and drop… and drop…
Until we end up where we are now – at a solid 2-star rating.
And forgive me – my avid readers of (what is it now, four?) – but for a film which borders on painful (it only reaches the low of good old-fashioned boring) – I really wanna know about the cost for the “transition” service?
Asking for a friend.
And if you’re looking for a solid pitch of what Hover is all about – let’s call it “a sci-fi Erin Brockovich”.
Hover is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on June 29th, 2018, and a VOD release on July 3rd, 2018.