Friday, May 08, 2015

Infini: Aussie Sci-Fi

In the future, teleportation is possible as a form of data-transmission. “Slipstreaming” is sort of like faxing yourself across the solar system. Unfortunately, data corruption can be a nasty side effect. Maybe that happened to the “t” and the “y” that ought to be in the title. Regardless, a galactic rescue team will risk data corruption and an airborne psychosis-inducing pathogen in Shane Abbess’s Infini (trailer here), which opens today in the Tri-State Area.

Of course, the future is miserable, because it always is. To support his pregnant wife, Whit Carmichael joins the slipstreaming SWAT team, but his first day will be a doozy. While he is still suiting up, an entire squad returns infected with a crazy bug, shooting up his regional command center. His only means of escape is slipstreaming to the far distant Infini mining colony from which they came. The East Coast team is subsequently dispatched to Infini with orders to secure Carmichael as well as the ominous cargo payload someone or something heaved in the direction of Earth.

Although only a few minutes have elapsed on Earth, several weeks have already passed for Carmichael. You know, relativity and all. The good news is if Carmichael lives, his wife will hardly know he was gone. The bad news is the utterly baffling in media res prologue suggests he is in for some major trouble.

Somehow, Infini’s narrative manages to be both simple and incomprehensible at the same time. On the other hand, it looks terrific. Although shot on a shoestring budget, production designer George Liddle (whose credits include Dark City and Daybreakers) and art director Peter “Babylon” Owens (whose nickname inspires confidence in a genre film) have crafted a fully realized and convincing looking interstellar environment.

Australian reality TV star Daniel MacPherson is shockingly effective as Carmichael, the frazzled everyman. Harry Pavlidis also adds some grizzled gravitas as Menzies, a senior extraction team member. Strangely though, Grace Huang, a future action star poised to breakout big (following notable work in RZA’s Man with the Iron Fists franchise and the short film Bloodtraffick) isn’t given much to do in Infini, except milling about in the cold. She is not the only one just waiting for “it” to get her.

A lot of talent and effort went into Infini, but you have to wonder how many people really watched all the way through. There are several impressive scenes, but as a viewing experience it is rather choppy. That happens in independent genre filmmaking. Abbess and his cast and crew should have a lot of good films in their future, in part because Infini was probably something of a teeth-cutter. For those who want to support, Infini opens today (5/8) in New Jersey at the AMC Loews Jersey Gardens.