J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Atomica: Green Tech Runs Amok

Auxilsun is a typical green tech firm. They talk a good game, but they are suspiciously secretive about their operations. Now that the vast majority of the world is powered by their fission reclamation plants, hardly anyone is willing to challenge them. However, a rookie engineer will stumble upon some awkward truth when she is sent to repair a remote desert station in Dagen Merrill’s Atomica (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.

When three nuclear reactors simultaneously melted down during the backstory, it nearly destroyed the Earth. Fortunately, Auxilsun saved the day by developing clean and green power stations built to surround older unsafe plants, like bell jars that would be fueled by their radioactive contamination. Of course, there is a double fail safe built into Auxilsun power stations, so no need to worry. When the remote Gibson Desert North facility loses communications, Abby is dispatched to make repairs. Initially, she assumes it will be routine mission, just like the Marines in Aliens.

Unfortunately, Dixon starts getting bad vibes as soon as she meets the squirrely maintenance technician, Robinson Scott (hmm, are screenwriters Kevin Burke, Federico Fernandez-Armesto, and Adam Gyngell I Spy fans?). Apparently, the station supervisor, Dr. Zek just up and left a few days ago, which is a really bad idea, given the overpowering radioactivity of the surrounding desert. Yet Scott does not seem particularly worried about him, or anything else for that matter.

Atomica is the second theatrical release from Syfy Films, but it is disappointingly more in keeping with their grind-em-out network originals than the surprisingly challenging and moody 400 Days. Let’s put it this way, Tom Sizemore appears in Atomica as the missing Dr. Zek, which rather lowers expectations, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, Sarah Habel’s Dixon is smarter and more proactive than your standard issue naïve protag and the hulking Gibson Desert station is strikingly cinematic, in a grungy dystopian kind of way. Still, Dominic Monaghan is way too over-the-top jittery as Robinson. Any rational company employee would have tazered him in under twenty minutes.

Frankly, the big revelations in Atomica are pretty ho-hum. Still, it is perversely entertaining to watch Sizemore do his thing. Enjoyable on a B-movie level but certainly not a film you need to make an effort to see on the big screen, Atomica opens tomorrow (3/17) in New York, at the Cinema Village.

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