Project ‘Gemini’, Звёздный разум or Proekt ‘Gemini’ if you prefer, is the latest genre film to come out of Russia. I’ve reviewed several Russian science fiction films from Attraction to Sputnik to The Blackout with very mixed results. The trailer, and the fact that Well Go USA had picked it up for US and Canadian release, convinced me to give it a look.
Three years after a deadly virus has destroyed much of Earth’s plant life humanity’s fate rests on a pair of alien artifacts uncovered by scientists and kept secret until now. A revolutionary engine that makes deep space travel feasible, and an orb that may have been the seed that brought life to Earth. With this, they plan to create a new home for mankind.
Steve (Egor Koreshkov, Jetlag), David (Dmitriy Frid, The Balkan Line) and Leona (Martinez Lisa) are among the crew of the expedition sent to the planet dubbed Tess. But something goes wrong during the jump and they emerge in an unknown part of the galaxy. There is however a nearby planet that’s an even better subject for terraforming than Tess was.
Project ‘Gemini’ apparently had a difficult road to the screen with much of the footage shot in 2016 in English with an eye on the international market. That was followed by reshoots, redubs into Russian and then, in the case of the version I saw, back into English. That may explain why, despite using experienced American voice actors, the dialogue frequently sounds melodramatic and overdone.
It also makes it impossible to know just how much of Project ‘Gemini’ is the work of credited director Serik Beyseu and writers Natalya Lebedeva (Never Say Goodbye) and Dmitriy Zhigalov (Beyond the Edge, Abigail). Regardless of who shot what, Project ‘Gemini’ does feature some excellent effects which helped take my mind off the dialogue and dress up a somewhat predictable plot. Are the various accidents actually accidents? If not is it an alien presence or a human saboteur that’s behind them?
Eventually, most of the cast end up trapped on the planet’s surface fighting amongst themselves while an alien tries to kill them all off. If it all sounds familiar, it is. Project ‘Gemini’ incorporates bits and pieces from various films in the Alien franchise, especially Prometheus, along with several knockoffs from everyone from Roger Corman to Norman J. Warren’s Inseminoid and multiple Italian productions. If Klaus Kinski was still alive I’d almost expect to see his character from Creature/Titan Find turn up, Hans would fit right in.
The result of all this is actually a fairly amusing film, that while it isn’t particularly coherent, at least has a lot going on. We can only speculate about what Project ‘Gemini’ would have been like without all of the post-production tinkering. But what we get is better than it has any right to be given the choppy editing and plot threads picked up and then dropped. Or maybe, as with Shocking Dark, that’s what makes it so entertaining.
I do wish we had seen more of the alien itself. When we finally do get a look at it it’s fairly reminiscent of one of Alien’s xenomorphs, but not badly done. And the various Kazakhstani caves and desert locations make a good stand-in for an alien planet. On the other hand, I have to wonder who had the idea of putting what looks like quilting in the spaceship’s corridor.
Well Go USA will release Project ‘Gemini’ to Digital and Blu-ray in the US and Canada on March 15. You can check their website for more details. The UK will get it on March 28th and in Australia Eagle Entertainment will release it on April 13th.