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  Cognition Dad's In Space
Year: 2020
Director: Ravi Ajit Chopra
Stars: Andrew Scott, Jeremy Irvine, Lucy Russell, Wolf Kahler, Milo Panni, Georgia Sandle
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the future and the Empire rules the galaxy, but when Abner (Jeremy Irvine) was a little boy (Milo Panni) he was very close to his father, Elias (Andrew Scott), who entertained a healthy cynicism about their overlords that he wished to pass onto his son. One day, on a far-off world, the agents of the Empire arrived to claim Abner and though Elias protested, he was shot with a powerful stun gun for his troubles, right in front of the horrified child. Now, looking back after fourteen years of training from the dictatorship, Abner ponders where he stands, especially as he must embark on a mission for his bosses that will bend time itself...

Cognition was one of those short films that were clearly a dry run for a longer, more extensive project to be made when the short drummed up the sufficient budget for it, but nevertheless even with this caveat it was apparent its writer and director Ravi Ajit Chopra has mustered enough cash to do justice to the imagery for his vision. Although some of it looked a shade setbound, there were plenty of vistas and skyscapes to craft a visually attractive work that genuinely resembled the kind of science fiction you would read about in a vintage paperback, its pictures reminiscent of some of the more imaginative book cover artists of yesteryear.

But not in a cheesy way so much, more in a style that could come across as art for art's sake, yet examine that opinion and you would draw the conclusion where else should there be ambitious, universe-spanning visuals other than a science fiction movie (or a space documentary - but this was no documentary)? Certainly the temptation would be to simply sit back and watch the pictorially captivating concepts as they danced over the screen, especially when Chopra's grasp of his story was not quite as sure, indeed it was possible to see the whole thing and be baffled as to what it all meant. As it was, there appeared to be a Freudian backing for the ideas and how they played out for Abner, as he grows up indoctrinated with mixed feelings about his father.

We discover why he labours under tremendous guilt later on, and it's at odds with the earlier scenes of him and Elias hanging out together in a desert on that planet, chewing over various philosophical conundrums about life, and general cosmic existence. Once the older Abner, who has been coached in the militaristic regime's rules and regulations, is able to "escape" in a spaceship under the premise of fulfilling a mission, he finds himself somehow unstuck in time, or at least suffering flashbacks to his worst moment, yet this encourages him to strike back against those overlords and become his own man, his own entity, rather than an agent of the state.

It also enables him to take off another spaceship from the erstwhile Battersea Power Station, a popular location for filmmakers ever since it had been closed for different plans. Chopra had roped in the services of impressive industry benefits, including the BBC Concert Orchestra to play the score (by Samuel Karl Bohn), a surprisingly lavish orchestral piece that added to the epic nature of what was unfolding. He had fostered a love of movies from his father, who ran a video rental store (remember those?) from central England, giving his culminating ambition of directing his own movie a pleasing closure, while opening up the possibilities of moving onto greater things. He just needed a stronger hand on his writing, it was all very well coming up with the sci-fi spectacle, but character was always important to ground the emotions, and Cognition was an indication he wasn't quite there yet as far as that went. But it was an achievement regardless.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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