Science fiction drama Ellipse is a fantastic example of high quality on a low budget. Raug (Grant Martin) is the young pilot of a small space exploration and survey craft. His only friend in the world (and in space) is his dog Mac (Jack William, yes, the dog is credited).
Raug is devastated by the recent death of his fiance, and he’s foolishly drinking and flying, which results in a crash on the planet Ellipse (so named because of its vaguely potato-like shape). The crash site is in a strange gravity and time distortion field. He is barely able to pull himself and Mac away from the ship because of the crushing gravity. Batteries depleted. No supplies. He must find a way to recharge the ship’s energy before they both die. The tale unfolds a challenge for man and dog to endure this strange variant of nature.
While working through ideas to escape back to Earth, he frequently flashes on life with his lady, and his desperation to survive mixes with deep sadness for his loss.
“…he’s foolishly drinking and flying which results in a crash on the planet Ellipse…”
He manages to MacGyver some creative solutions together, but will it be enough to get the ship up again and go home? Will they both make it?
It might seem odd that the dog is credited: Mac is played by Jack William. The character is half of the heart and soul of the film, and Jack brings it with panache in his co-starring role. In the case of this feature, with no dog, there would be no movie.
The film teeters on the edge of campiness but doesn’t quite slip that far. CGI saves the day by making even the goofiest props look believably high-tech. Raug’s ship looks like something out of Heavy Metal, but it still serves the film. Audiophiles will note that the lighted detail behind the pilot’s seat is an upside-down Cerwin-Vega loudspeaker with the logo still intact. Raug’s backpack is a clearly a cardboard box with some vacuum-cleaner hoses glued on, yet the addition of a CGI display panel suddenly makes it a sophisticated device that even the Ghostbusters wouldn’t turn their noses up at.
None of the schlocky props or CGI take away from the great performance by Grant Martin, or by Jack, for that matter. The story is authentic and poignant, and the suspense builds as their situation becomes increasingly dire.
"…a fantastic example of high quality on a low budget."