Humanity’s End Review

It’s always hard knowing where to start when talking about a film like Humanity’s End. The short version is that the film is a very ambitious indie “Space Opera” that tackles some very tough themes, and has a rare but appreciated focus on its female characters that isn’t often seen in the genre.

The story of Humanity’s End is in some ways a classic space opera (huge scale, seemingly unwinnable war and a focus on interpersonal relationships throughout said events), but it takes some risks with the story which really pay off. Set in the year 2834, several hybrid species of human have banded together under the leadership of an alien race known as the Nephilim to wipe out humanity. A court-martialed ex-starship captain, Derasi Vorde (Jay Laisne) returns from the outer reaches of the galaxy to find that he is the last human male alive. He and his crew are tasked with caring for a young woman who may hold the key to repopulating the human race.

While the beginning of the film sets up the expectation that Derasi will be the film’s main character, I don’t think that ended up being the case. His character feels like a caricature of Han Solo. He is vulgar and offensive to those around him, and has a hugely egocentric and arrogant personality. I had hoped initially that they would use this for character development, but was actually pleased by the end that they didn’t. He is a very deliberately abrasive character, whose interactions with others are fun to watch and by having him not always be the most likeable, they paved the way for the female characters to take the focus and progress the story. By doing this they create a completely different tone to the film.

The film has an overarching story that tells the tale of humanity trying to find meaning in its existence and does so in an insightful and enlightening way, but it really shines in the way it tackles women’s issues. It is very rare to see a sci-fi story tackle the theme of the importance of being a mother/ taking a caring role as Alicia (Cynthia Ickes) does, versus being the strong warrior fighting side by side with the masculine characters like Contessa (Rochelle Vallese). That focus really changed the dynamic of the story from the typical space opera structure.

The story had some real similarities in its structure to an elongated episode of Firefly. It does have a plot twist of Firefly proportions at the end and they took a big risk with it, but I feel that it was definitely the right decision. It was handled very well and caught me off guard. It really made me eager to watch the film again with it in mind.

The soundtrack occasionally repeats itself, but the music is very good at emphasising the mood and framing the action, helping to bring everything together. The special effects were very impressive for a low budget ($2 million), but my biggest gripe with them is that occasionally they will just take the large explosions and scale them down for when soldiers are being shot, which sometimes looks out of place. On the whole they create a very visually cohesive film.

There are some places it where it borrows from similar films quite heavily, notably one of the species looks like a carbon copy of the Borg from Star Trek, but the film’s makers seem to be aware of this. There are ships that look like those from Star Wars, and several clichés from the genre, but it’s all done with a light hearted attitude that allows you to look and think “yes this is familiar, but I don’t really mind.”

All in all I wish this film could have been a bit longer and had a larger budget. Neil Johnson, the director, tried something very ambitious with Humanity’s End and it worked for the most part, but the story felt a little rushed. With some extra time to flesh out the story, this could have become a real cult hit. As things stand, it’s a very enjoyable space opera. Yes it is clichéd at times, and yes it may not have the polish of a $50 million blockbuster movie, but if you’re a sci-fi fan looking for something new, particularly if you would like to see a film where the women are the most important and endearing characters, then Humanity’s End is definitely worth a watch. It’s fun, action packed, and has a story that, while at times reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica or Firefly, takes some risks and stations itself as a unique and enjoyable evening for any sci-fi fan looking for something they haven’t seen before.

Humanity’s End is available to purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray from May 21st.

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