June 25, 2018 Hover (Movie Review)
In the not-so distant future, cars drive themselves, cellphones are small glass tablets, cats are nothing more than holograms, and all the appliances inside your home operate on voice command. Exploring this autonomous new world is the brand new SyFy Films offering Hover, where drones are at the forefront of agricultural technology. Perhaps not exactly a tale of technological salvation, Hover arrives to select theaters on Friday, June 29, 2018, before being released to VOD and Digital HD on Tuesday, July 3rd.
Here, the world is suffering from a catastrophic drought that has caused food shortages and, ultimately, massive shifts in farming systems and structures. One company on the cusp of the most up-to-date technology, VastGrow, have invented a line of drones that can autonomously tend to crops – including eliminating pests – all while policing property boundaries. This has led to an impressive increase in crop yield, helping to contribute more food to the worldwide market, which is struggling to sustain its population. Needless to say, VastGrow and its CEO, Anna Cook (Rhoda Griffis: Walk the Line 2005, The Blind Side 2009), have quickly become household names.
In this brave new world, trusting Claudia (Cleopatra Coleman: Step Up Revolution 2012, The Last Man on Earth series) and world-weary John (Craig muMS Grant: Dark Water 2005, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 2014) are partners who work for Transitions, a company that provides in-home ascension (assisted suicide) services for ill individuals and their families. They are given a database of names and addresses and with the utmost compassion and respect they are dispatched to these homes to aid in the transition from life to death.
When John fails to turn up at work one morning and Claudia learns of his untimely passing, she is barely able to mourn her loss before her boss, Jason (Leo Fitzpatrick: Kids 1995, Bully 2001), sends her back on the road with a new partner, the superbly-nosey Tania (Fabianne Therese: John Dies at the End 2012, Endless Love 2014). For her first go-round as supervisor, Claudia, along with Tania, oversees the transition of Mr. Abner Smith (MacArthur Hewitt in his acting debut), but all does not go according to plan. Mr. Smith’s surviving relatives, his heartbroken widow Helen (Rhonda Johnson Dents: Bloodline series, Queen Sugar series) and son Victor (Dré Starks: Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda series documentary, The Arbors 2018) are understandably upset, and Victor soon begins to spout off conspiracy theories about the link between drones and the rapid increase in health issues amongst farming families.
Soon, Claudia – who is facing some deeply personal issues of her own – will find herself surrounded by a diverse community that, much like young Victor, are all training their suspicious eyes on VastGrow. From former beekeeper and farm widow Joanna Andrews (Beth Grant: Donnie Darko 2001, Little Miss Sunshine 2006) to drone repair specialist Isaiah (Shane Coffey: Pretty Little Liars series, Starry Eyes 2014), those that distrust the money-hungry corporation are beginning to fit together the pieces of a grand and truly disturbing puzzle that seems to center around those always-present, completely untrustworthy drones.
Clocking in at 88 minutes in-length, Hover was directed by Matt Osterman (Ghost from the Machine short 2010, 400 Days 2015) and was written by Coleman, who stars as Claudia. The film is billed as Science Fiction and its entire premise rests upon Sci-Fi, yes, though there are elements of Drama and Suspense embedded in its fast-moving plot. Ultimately, this all makes for a movie that is an enjoyable watch, with some truly moving performances, even if it does have some silly moments.
Here, Coleman – who stars and wrote the screenplay – does a superb job as the well-rounded character Claudia. She is a likable lead, a woman who shows respect for her heartbreaking job, and has a staunch affection for her boss John, whom she lovingly chides as being “old” because he distrusts technology. It is intriguing to watch her transition (no pun intended) upon John’s untimely death, from a young woman who is open to vast possibility into a miniature of her former-boss, someone who has erected a bubble around themselves and now sees the world with a weary eye. Because of this and her ability to convey these changes fluidly, she carries the plot and moves the entire film forward with a grace that feels flawless.
Though, perhaps it is Starks, as farmer’s son Victor Smith, who launches the entire plot fully into action, and provides some of the most pivotal dialogue throughout the entire film. His on-screen time is limited, but he makes the most of this and powerfully and poignantly delivers his lines, providing much of the impetus for the entire film’s development. Similarly, though they are not the leads here, Grant and Coffey provide solid supporting performances that lead the film toward its action-packed climax.
This is all bolstered by some truly crisp and beautifully-done cinematography. In a scene where Claudia lounges in the grass beneath a shading tree, beside a mourning Victor, viewers will feel as though they can reach out and run their hands through that grass, then crawl beneath the shade alongside the pair. Similarly, Wojciech Golczewski’s original, electronic score is the perfect complement to all of the on-screen action and drama, providing the perfect aural backbone for all of these crisp visuals. The pairing is perfect, and bolsters the films success.
That said, there are some downsides to Hover. Perhaps most importantly are those drones, which are not always digitally-composited into the scenes flawlessly. The end result are shots that feel a little askew, with drones hovering in a sky that does not always flawlessly blend into the one that the characters are standing beneath. Though, thankfully, while it is a little wonky, this never truly detracts too much from the action. The true misstep, however, are those exploding heads – like something out of a D-grade Horror flick – which just seem gratuitous and silly, and actually detract from the quality of the film.
From its wonderful acting to its unique script, crisp cinematography to a splendid musical score, Hover is an enjoyable ride that will keep you entertained throughout the length of its run-time. It is nothing monumental or groundbreaking, sure, but it combines all of its myriad pieces to author a Sci-Fi story that is a good reason to devour a bag of microwave popcorn – and a good reason to cross that drone off your Christmas list! For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Hover 3 of 5 stars.