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By Doug Brunell | June 26, 2003

By all accounts, this movie should be a total failure. It’s a sci-fi film under fifteen minutes long with a budget small enough to have been financed by homeless people … and they’d still have money left over for food. Luckily, none of that detracted from the picture, and by the time the credits rolled, I was impressed.
The story is kept deliberately simple. Two men (Franco Calabrese and Joel Austin) are sent on a mission to retrieve a couple of wanted people who are stranded on a disabled spaceship. Upon arriving at the planet the ship is supposed to be orbiting, the men are knocked out of space by what appears to be a meteor. What follows is a Darwinian display of the food chain at work.
With a plot as basic as the one in “Stranded,” you need to care about the characters (and fantastic CGI effects don’t hurt any, either). Writers Don Waters and Joel Austin pull that off without a hitch. By the time the film’s climax crashes down, you not only want to know more about the two men, you’re also more than a little tense as they approach what they think is possible salvation.
If you’re a fan of science fiction, “Stranded” is just the film you need to see. It proves that genre producers and directors don’t need huge budgets and major studios behind them to put out a quality film. In fact, after a few of the big budget disasters that have come out of the sci-fi realm (“Lost in Space,” for example), it may be a better idea to stick with the independents all together.

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