Space Sweepers review: Netflix delivers a visually stunning space opera

Space Sweepers - Credit: Netflix
Space Sweepers - Credit: Netflix /

If Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy had a baby and someone gave that immaculate conception of sci-fi cinema Captain America’s super-soldier serum, the end result would be the South Korean space opera, Space Sweepers.

Director Jo Sung-Hee delivers an adventurous, blockbuster caliber film to Netflix that subscribers should prepare themselves for because it is absolutely out of this world.

A lot of science fiction makes its way to Netflix, and some of it can be a yawn-inducing affair when it comes to the story, the visuals, the action, and the characters.

Luckily, these are the areas where Space Sweepers excels above the rest and provides viewers with an instantly riveting experience.

Should I watch Space Sweepers on Netflix?

The film takes place in the year 2092 where Earth is no longer habitable for human beings. But a company called UTS came in and created a system of orbital space stations and elevators for people to escape the doomed planet below. All efforts have been put toward terraforming Mars as a new place to live, and the place we once called home has been left to rot.

The rich live in Eden, which is a paradise in space, and will soon be the only ones allowed to inhabit the red planet once it’s ready. The non-UTS citizens live in cramped, overcrowded, and derelict space stations with little way to earn a living.

One dangerous way to earn low amounts of income is chasing down the massive amounts of space junk that is floating around from all of the construction. This includes expired satellites, radioactive materials, and more, all soaring through the black void of space faster than a speeding bullet.

Space Sweepers or those crazy enough to pick this career utilize a series of harpoons and grapple guns to capture space trash like a whaler would try to capture Moby Dick. The opening moments show a multicultural group of junkers bearing a similar resemblance to the Ravagers from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. except no extraterrestrial life forms. They are interrupted by the ship called The Victory containing the film’s main players Captian Jang, Tiger, Buds, and Tae-ho who instill fear in their colleagues and ultimately jack the load for themselves while causing some costly damage in the process.

Losing money on such a death-defying endeavor, the group begins to lose hope of ever getting out of debt until they stumble upon a weapon of mass destruction disguised as a little girl named Dorothy who was taken by the terrorist group and is all over the news. Instead of giving it to the authorities.

When they decide to give her back to the terrorists, a grand conspiracy unfolds that leaves this ragtag group of space junkers with dark pasts as the only ones who can save Earth and the rest of humanity. The end result is a fantastic, sci-fi, action-packed thrill ride that should definitely rank high on everyone’s priorities when it comes to what to watch on Netflix.

Most of the time, when movies like this go big on set pieces, and action sequences, the story usually falls by the wayside, or worse, is so complicated people need to watch five YouTube videos to know if they liked it or not. Thankfully this was not the case with Space Sweepers, as it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the narrative and succeeds with an easy to absorb, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride chock full of twists and turns that will leave anyone who witnesses its a glory hitting the thumbs up rating before Netflix can force them to watch a trailer for some other great piece of content they have available.

It isn’t all sunshine in rainbows in this one either. While most Star Wars and Marvel tales tend to go light when sprinkling tragedy into the mix, Space Sweepers ups the dose and pours it on hard, delivering a powerful subplot dealing with loss and redemption in an intriguing manner enhancing the narrative’s overall value.

Also, It was also really cool how they incorporated so many different languages into the film. While it’s mostly in Korean and some English, there is also German, Danish, Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, and many more languages utilized throughout the film by a diverse cast of characters. They could have just as easily kept in pretty one-sided as far as linguistics go but doing it this way adds a certain amount of genuineness to the entire ordeal making it really feel like a glimpse into the future robustly adding to the rewarding adventure.

As far as the visuals go, the production design can only be described using the word masterful. In regards to sci-fi, this is, in all honesty, one of the most expertly-crafted endeavors that have been done in recent years. Dexter Studios, the group in charge of Space Sweepers’ VFX, ever a parade and a holiday named after them for the excellent work they conducted to give the movie an authentic look to suit its spectacular story and futuristic setting.

The strategy behind the action was exemplary compared to others. Instead of having the heroes split up in battles, for the most part, this team fights better together, and it shows. Every action sequence from space junking to dog fights was remarkable and really fun to watch.

As far as the acting goes, everyone turns in a stellar performance worthy of what the film puts out. Buds the Robot is one of the highlights of the entire motion picture. Whether it’s her one-liner or her harpoon throwing skills, she is sure to be a fan favorite. Watching her read her magazine, sitting in a lawn chair outside the ship in space says everything one needs to know about Space Sweepers. Yoo Hae-Ji does a tremendous job in the motion capture suit bringing this mechanical badass to life.

Song Joong-Ki leads the way in the story as Tae-Ho and does an exceptional job handling the depth of his character’s arc and the emotional resonance that comes with it. Jin Seon-Kyu’ Tiger Park proves someone does not have to be as big as Drax to be the tough guy of the group and holds it down like a champ whether he is in battle or in the engine room, making sure the Victory stays soaring through space.

Kim Tae-Ri steals the show every time she’s on-screen and solidifies her action star status as the formidable Captain Jang. Her performance undeniably aces, and she brings the character with a well-crafted backstory to life like a champion.

The only downfall with her, Tiger, and Buds is that fans don’t get to know more or see any of their backstory like Tae-ho. Hopefully, the powers that be are just saving those storylines for a sequel. Fingers crossed, everyone.

Richard Armitage as the villain is brilliant. The menacing presence and intensity that he utilized as the Red Dragon in the Hannibal series was nothing short of astounding, and since then, his game has only improved, allowing him to provide a brilliant antagonist.

The one downside Space Sweepers does have, and it’s kind of sad this is the only flaw, but there are entirely too many fart jokes. After the fiasco that was the ending of the incredibly terrible Dr. Dolittle remake, both Hollywood and studios worldwide should really retire the practice for good and never let that crap soil a film’s narrative ever again.

Overall, Space Sweepers is a genius achievement in the realms of both blockbuster filmmaking and the science fiction genre and would easily prove to be a worthwhile endeavor for any Netflix subscriber willing to explore what the Korean space adventure has to offer when looking for something incredibly entertaining to watch on movie night.

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