Despite the fact that it is only director Martin Grof’s sophomore effort, Sensation shows signs of someone in command of their technical abilities and a keen eye for framing the action.
Eugene Simon, who viewers may recall from his stint in Game of Thrones as Lancel Lannister, stars as Andrew, a young postman anxious to know more about his past, so he submits a DNA test to explore his lineage. He soon learns that some things are better left unknown (or to be more selective with what agency to whom you mail your saliva-covered Q-tip) when he heads to the company for the results.
The rather menacing Dr. Daniel Marinus (veteran actor Alistair C*****g, chewing scenery like a rawhide bone) tells Andrew that his DNA revealed special abilities that include heightened, animalistic senses. Marinus persuades Andrew to go to a mansion doubling as a research facility for others who possess similar heightened sensations. Let’s call it the S-Mansion to avoid any legal discrepancies.
While here, Andrew is under the supervision of two rather cagey individuals: Nadia (Emily Wyatt) and May ( Jennifer Martin), who seem to help their charges come to terms with their abilities and harness them for more practical uses. As Andrew soldiers on in training, he finds the lines of reality blurring, and he becomes dubious as to the study’s purpose and even distinguishing if the others in his class (Marybeth Havens, Anil Desai, Lorraine Tai, Kai Francis Lewis) are friends or foes.
“Marinus persuades Andrew to go to a mansion doubling as a research facility…”
Along with the filmmaker, cinematographer Jamie Barr nails an extremely polished look for Sensation, balancing light and motion to produce a highly polished production. Christopher Nolan’s influence is obvious throughout, both in the visual department and story, with nods to a group of mutant superheroes as well (X-ception?).
And while the score is appropriate in tone, it is thundering in approach, providing scenes with too much dramatic heft. Using the Hans Zimmer “wall of Sound” approach, the music crashes over moments in which the action simply does not match. This style of scoring is perfectly acceptable when used sparingly, but the composer and director often let it overtake moments where less is more.
The other hindrance is the script. There’s certainly nothing wrong with all the time-bending tricks up its sleeve. Plus, the cast and crew conceive some rather inventive, low-cost tricks to accomplish them. But the story itself needs to build up its backstory a little more to raise the stakes in the exciting second half. Big reveals are muted by a lack of strong connective tissue that undermines the gravity of particularly revelatory scenes.
There’s still much to admire with Sensation, despite its flaws. Those who seek their sci-fi with a more cerebral slant will find quite a bit to admire here. The film certainly demonstrates a cast and crew who are dedicated to their craft and provide anticipation for future endeavors in which they continue to polish it.
"…those who seek their sci-fi with a more cerebral slant will find quite a bit to admire..."