Project Ithaca revolves around a Saw like scenario where random people find themselves tethered to the same alien spaceship. With little information, five strangers have to navigate their imprisonment in a craft that seems to be a sentient being which exists interdimensionally and interspacially. Additionally, one of the prisoners is not like the rest, bringing the survivors hope that they have a chance to escape.
Project Ithaca is an entertaining alien movie that seems to hit the magic of magi-science content without being overrun with cheesy tropes that make alien films typically unenjoyable. Speaking from opinion, besides original films from Ridley Scott’s Alien, I have been hard pressed to find alien movies absent of whited out UFO landing shots and awkward probing scenes. Now, I adore alien content, I love reading about Roswell, Skinwalker Ranch, and listening to Coast to Coast with a large glass of wine. However, when I turn to film, that same pizazz isn’t there, just weird scenes of Christopher Walken in eyeliner dancing with aliens in blinding fluorescent light.
Most of the characters in Project Ithaca are compelling and their back stories are engaging, which distracts from the fact that most of the film takes place in one set. There are some characters that are there for plot convenience, but for the most part their delivery is fun, bringing authenticity to the film. This genuine feel could be credited to the actor’s versatility, but the diversity of the people present speaks more to the ability of the director and writers. Additionally, the plot of Project Ithaca is not overly complicated and is sprinkled with extraterrestrial elements instead of being bogged down in jargon that no one wants to decipher. You can get the feel of a sci-fi movie with an original concept and a set that is not overwhelmed with CGI.
While I did enjoy Project Ithaca, there are elements of the film that warrant critique. For instance, despite my praise for written characters, there are some archetypal ones that just exist for plot fodder such as the macho military general and the know it all insider with a tragic backstory. Also, there are some leaps in logic and written in plot convenience that the audience must bypass, but they do not play a large enough role to be distracting. And unfortunately, the ending will leave you unsatisfied, the movie just sort of ends which is really disappointing to say the least.
Overall, Project Ithaca is a gem that you come across when you are searching through Netflix, one that will help settle a long week with some popcorn and an adult beverage. It has a fairly original concept, compelling characters, and delivers a competent film (except for the end) that can be enjoyed by those who crave a sci-fi movie that isn’t cheesy or overcome with a new universe you must understand in an hour. However, the most important contribution Project Ithaca brings to cinema is to resurrect your faith in alien movies, at least that is what it did for me.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Nicholas Humphries
Writer(s): Anthony Artibello, Kevin C. Bjerkness
Stars: James Gallanders, Deragh Campbell, Daniel Fathers
Release: Currently available on On Demand and on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD
Studio/ Production Co: Wild Media Entertainment, Hawkeye Pictures
Length: 85 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller