‘Settlers’ Review: Interstellar Colonialism on Mars

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billionaires race colonizing space, but how would it turn out if they were successful? “The Settlers,” a sci-fi thriller from Wyatt Rockefeller (these Rockefellers), sticks to that vision, but only manages to tell a clumsy cautionary tale of farmhouse and violence on planet Mars. For this movie, it would make the most sense to side with Jerry (Ismael Cruz Córdova), a Martian native who hopes to reclaim his land. Instead, it portrays him as a deranged savage.

“The Settlers” is divided into three episodes, each focusing on a key figure in the life of a young girl named Remmy (Brooklynn Prince). Her father, Reza (Jonny Lee Miller), is a hot-tempered, protective man. Remmy and his mother warn Ilsa (Sofia Boutella) not to stray too far from their remote farm. Before long, her paranoia is right when Jerry shows up. Apparently, Jerry’s family owned the land before Reza and Ilsa overthrew them. He wants his home back.

While this may be a simple tale about the evils of colonialism – the fact that the real intruders are Remmy and his family – Rockefeller’s tangled script sees Jerry as the villain and quickly turns Remmy’s life into a living hell. Jerry (played mainly by a Puerto Rican actor) will stop at nothing, including murder, to have a successful life on Mars.

This has all the embellishments of a movie that should know what it’s doing: impressive special effects, exquisite cinematography, astonishing art direction. Unfortunately, all the money in the world can’t save this flimsy narrative that culminates in a scene depicting an attempted rape of a young girl. The “settlers” claim to challenge violence against women and colonialism. Instead, the heroine struggles in powerlessness for most of the movie, and a boxy robot is presented as more sympathetic than an ultimately displaced brown man.

settlers
Not rated. Duration: 1 hour 43 minutes. Available at select theaters and for rental or purchase apple tv, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay-TV operators.

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