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Decaying Orbit (2007)

Decaying Orbit

Written and Directed by Tim Pyle

Featuring: Denise Gossett, Andy Allen, Darren Schnase, Asa Wallander


Five people trapped on a spaceship, millions of miles away from Earth, with no food and no water, their oxygen supply slowly being depleted. They've just survived a massive explosion that destroyed a large scientific laboratory carrying deadly strains of viruses that killed literally everyone but them. Think the action and adventure is coming? Think again. If you can get past the first 15 minutes (which are very confusing and fast-paced), then you'll be very happy. Because Decaying Orbit is actually more of a dramatic mystery than anything else, complete with treason, greed, and (finally!) mutiny. Not to mention a very impressive and cool female cast that manages to strip nearly naked and keep way more dignity than you'd expect.
Burton (Darren Schnase), a high-ranking officer, finds himself stranded with Kate (Denise Gossett), an antagonistic and strong-willed officer who disagrees with almost his every decision, and Rob (Andy Allen) and Winnie (Asa Wallander), two officers who have never been in such dire straits in their entire careers and desperately need guidance. Along for the ride is Hermel, a doctor who escaped at the last minute from the fiery inferno only to potentially bring aboard the crazy, bio-engineered virus that was housed on the now-combusted facility. Besides being scared to death, the survivors wonder, who or what caused the explosion? And if it was a "who", why? As time runs out and they need to make decisions as to how they are going to survive and get a signal back to earth, clues emerge as to what really happened on the laboratory and that the culprit might actually be one of the five survivors.

Asa Wallander as "Winnie", doing a scan or something on a genetic DNA something or other. In the future.


While the actors put on a dramatic play a whole universe of computer graphics unfold around them. Ships, planets, lasers, you name it, it's here, all created after the fact on a computer. For a film with this much "atmosphere" around it, it's necessary and really cool. Think of an episode of Andromeda, and you'll get an idea of what the effects are like. Unfortunately, the effects are great to a point that can be distracting. It's also too bad that at times the actors seem very disconnected from the ship and world around them (because it wasn't there until after filming was done). Despite this setback, the movie moves along believably and draws you in slowly, but strongly, until the final, gripping climax that truly creates an atmosphere of tension and suspense.

Check out this "Decaying Orbit" montage I found when looking for images. Notice the Army Issue Bras.


Denise Gossett's Kate and Asa Wallander's Winnie are so very organic and wonderful to watch as women in a genre usually filled with leather-clad Amazons or sexless army sergeants. These two women are neither; they are simply interesting characters acted quite well in the tradition I hope will come back to sci-fi of characters like Dr. Beverly Crusher, Lt. Starbuck (in the new Battlestar Galactica) and Ellen Ripley. Also fun is Andy Allen's versatile and comedic Rob, played with so much style it's a blast to watch his character in action.


Ultimately a genre film only because of the futuristic setting, this mystery could have taken place anywhere; on a train, on a plane, on a boat, and you wouldn't have to change very much of the plot or dialogue to have it make sense. Instead of being a traditional sci-fi film, it's a character study that could take place on a stage. So, is it a great sci-fi film? That depends. If you want to see aliens and green women in bikinis, stay away from Decaying Orbit. On the other hand, if you are a Colombo fan and really dig computer effects, this will charm your pants off. Keep in mind the budget (low) and you'll be doubly impressed with what the team of actors and the talents of Tim Pyle came up with.


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