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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool sci-fi eye-candy!
The year is 2267. The ecosystem of the Earth has finally collapsed, and everyone - even the poorest people from the Third World - are now moving into the space stations and colonies around the solar system. The main character, Laura Portmann, is a doctor who accepts a several years long voyage from Earth orbit to a space station in the Oort Cloud which needs upgrading...
Published on 12 Sept. 2010 by Tue Sorensen

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88 of 95 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-intentioned but under-achieving SF
Cargo is an unusual science fiction film - a throwback to the 'serious', ideas-led SF cinema that almost died in the 1970s with the advent of Star Wars. A Swiss production with a cast who will be unknown to most British viewers, it makes the most of a small budget, with excellent special effects that are easily the equal of their Hollywood equivalents. The opening...
Published on 14 July 2010 by Paul Bowes


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool sci-fi eye-candy!, 12 Sept. 2010
By 
Tue Sorensen (Denmark, Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cargo [DVD] (DVD)
The year is 2267. The ecosystem of the Earth has finally collapsed, and everyone - even the poorest people from the Third World - are now moving into the space stations and colonies around the solar system. The main character, Laura Portmann, is a doctor who accepts a several years long voyage from Earth orbit to a space station in the Oort Cloud which needs upgrading. She does it for the money; she hopes afterwards to be able to join her sister on the paradisic colony world Rhea. Also aboard the ship (which is called Kassandra) is a sky marshall, who's supposed to guard the cargo from an alleged anti-technology terrorist organization that has been carrying out bomb strikes on several space stations.

As the spaceship approaches its destination, something seems amiss. There seems to be a stowaway on the ship who's messing with the cargo. So the crew, after having awoken from their cryosleep, goes into the massive cargo hold to investigate, and soon meet with various accidents. What is the cargo, you ask? Ah yes - and what is the Matrix?! This film contains many - subtle and not so subtle - references to classic sci-fi films, including 2001, Matrix, Aliens and Cube; the cargo hold is arranged much like the cubes in the eponymous 1997 film, and occasionally rearrange themselves. But Cargo does not rip these films off; rather, it pays homage to them. It consciously uses them for the purpose of placing itself firmly in the history of the genre.

The film is, somewhat surprisingly, not sci-fi/horror (although it does contain at least one horror cliché, which however turns out to have a rational explanation), but actually straight sci-fi, which warms the cockles of this reviewer's heart. The story is relatively simple, but constantly keeps you guessing. There are a couple of plot elements which are not very clear, and there may also be a couple of little things that don't really work, but they do not ruin the overall impression - especially because the technical beauty of the production is so apparent. And although the film proceeds rather slowly at times, the cinematic craftsmanship always presents you with details worthy of your attention. For instance, it snows in the cargo hold! It's a great touch: everything in the cargo hold is iced over, so when they restore the atmosphere in order to go in there, particles and flakes of ice are whirled around inside the huge cargo bays, giving the impression of snow. Also, at the destination, when the cargo cubes are unloaded, the CGI special effects are very impressively made. In general, the effects comprise a convincing future world, and the slow scenes give you plenty of time to enjoy it.

As I watched the film, I never found it unoriginal; on the contrary. I found the story and the revelation at the end both topical and believable. The film raises a relevant problematic concerning virtual reality which we need to think about and come to terms with before this sort of thing happens in real life. Ultimately, the film is a political statement, directed against devious and profiteering corporations and governments. Not a new message, to be sure, but one which bears repetition as long as such problems persist.

If you like science fiction, consider this film recommended.
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88 of 95 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-intentioned but under-achieving SF, 14 July 2010
By 
Paul Bowes (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cargo [DVD] (DVD)
Cargo is an unusual science fiction film - a throwback to the 'serious', ideas-led SF cinema that almost died in the 1970s with the advent of Star Wars. A Swiss production with a cast who will be unknown to most British viewers, it makes the most of a small budget, with excellent special effects that are easily the equal of their Hollywood equivalents. The opening sequence of the space station in near-Earth orbit is particularly impressive. The director works hard to give a sense of what it would be like to find oneself among virtual strangers in deep space when things start to go wrong, but inevitably the cargo ship Kassandra echoes the visual design of earlier films - particularly the dark, wet, empty hangars and storage spaces of Alien's Nostromo. This may arouse expectations that the film does not fulfil - this is not a 'creature feature'. Nor does director Ivan Engler possess Ridley Scott's ability to fill those dark spaces with dread.

Unfortunately, Cargo has shortcomings in other areas. The plot - a sort of futurist eco-thriller - is not particularly original. This wouldn't matter if it were worked out less predictably: but most viewers will have guessed what is really happening long before the 'revelations'. This problem is compounded by what seems to be an error of pacing, in which the central plot device is revealed too early. As a result, the final section of the film has the feel of a series of dramatic incidents tacked on at the last moment to compensate for the absence of real tension.

The acting is competent, with no real standouts. The dialogue - in German with English subtitles - is a barrier to engagement for those who don't speak German, but the subtitles are literate and seem accurate. This is just as well, because there are a lot of dour conversations between people who don't know each other well and are suspicious of each other's motives.

The main difficulty for viewers reared on Hollywood cinema is likely to be the film's relatively slow pace, emotional coolness and absence of dramatic fireworks. This realism places Cargo in line of descent from Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, although the new film lacks the originality and intellectual daring that made 2001 so refreshing. For some, however, it will be an attraction to find an intelligent science fiction film that doesn't depend on explosions, heavy weaponry and gore for its effects.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An atmospheric deep-space sci-fi thriller, 10 July 2010
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cargo [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Cargo begins with our heroine applying for a cargo run in the year 2267 to one of the furthest & deepest space stations humans possess, Station 42. The crew will spend the majority of the time in stasis waking up periodically to take their turn on an 8 1/2 month watch shift. In 8 years time, Dr Laura Portmann (Anna-Katharina Schwabroh) will have enough money to escape the over-crowded space stations that currently support humanity and buy her way to Rhea - a habitable planet, much like earth used to be. However, when the crew find out that they are not alone on the ship, their suspicions of each other start to tear them apart...

Cargo is an excellent film, although it is filmed in German, the dialogue is terse and sporadic and the subtitles more than compensate for the language. What struck me about this film was just how atmospheric it was, I found myself holding my breath at one or two points in the film, frozen in suspense. The mark of an excellent film in my view. I have never been so afraid of a simple shot of a door (The broken bulkhead door between the ship and the cargo containers) and the long panning shots of the gate only heighten the tension. The interior is very reminscent of A Space Odyssey and even some of the outside scenes follow on, with some extremely retro space-suits and great panning arcs of the ship. The premise of a stow-away sabotaging the ship is similar to Sunshine and the neuro-networks are straight out of The Matrix. So whilst there isn't much orginality to any of the plot elements, their unique combination and brilliant direction from Swiss director Ivan Engler means that this film comes together as something really special.

The Blu-Ray version is unparalelled, crisp quality scenes of great interior sets, some of the exterior shots of the ship and the stations are just incredible. Highly Recommended!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1st class SciFi, 21 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: Cargo [DVD] (DVD)
This is a very good film. SciFi is my favourite genre in movies and I was a little apprehensive that I might of wasted my money, on a film that to me was virtually unknown.

Boy was I surprised. The CGI is very good along with the acting. The film itself is in German with English sub-titles,but dont let this put you off. After 20 minutes you wont notice the language, you will be gripped by a very good story which for the most part is quite original. Not all but most.

I enjoyed seeing little bits of Blade Runner - Alien - Matrix and the Forbidden Planet.

The movie score is a big part of SciFi and the score is very good outer space is made to feel large,forboding and very cold.

At £4 its an absolute steal
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OK this takes time to get into but it is worth it, 22 April 2012
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This review is from: Cargo [DVD] (DVD)
Point 1. Star Wars or Star Trek this is not - so if you are after a bit of cheap escapism look else where
Point 2. Its in German with subtitles - much of the negative reviews about wooden acting are because of this a mixture of trying to read the subtitle and see the motion and also the fact that Swiss/Germans do portray emotion differently to UK/US - get over it

This is a hard core serious Sci-Fi movie. Yes its been done on a budget but frankly you wouldn't know. It tries very hard to be "real" IE no sound in space realistic weightlessness etc - makes a few mistakes but probably to keep the story going.

There has been a lot of criticism of the fact it uses ideas from other films - this is true to a point but in this film it takes the ideas and builds on them - the only slightly unrealistic point is the quick and simplistic romance. Still its a good movie
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I thought we were transporting construction material.....", 27 Jan. 2012
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cargo [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Science-Fiction films often try to capture a great opening shot, one which inspires awe and establishes the epic nature of the story. Cargo succeeds with the task and idyllic scenes are revealed to be nothing more than on-screen adverts on a space-based construction. As the shot zooms out and we enjoy panoramas of the structure, the sheer scale of it is difficult to comprehend, it's an awesome feat of engineering with the twinkling lights of titanic cities looking nothing less than beautiful, it's an elegance which masks the realities of within...

Earth is no longer habitable, human existence has regurgitated resources and polluted it beyond any capability of sustaining life - mankind now exists in space-based communities orbiting the planet which was once so lush. Millions of refugees live in cramped conditions where disease and misery infect the densely populated space-craft, apart from the lucky ones who managed to establish a new life on Rhea - a distant planet which offers a life of contrasting luxury. Doctor Portman sees a job on-board a cargo ship as an opportunity for her to raise enough funds to get to Rhea and escape the conditions of her space station home. But it's a risky move, terrorists have been actively sabotaging such vessels and she's going to be on it for 4 years - much of it in a cryogenically induced slumber - but surely there's nothing of interest on a decrepit old ship which is well beyond its prime.

Cargo is a work of 'serious' science fiction like Solaris or the more recent Sunshine. A voyage designed to deliver cargo becomes the centre of a revelation when its freight turns out to be more previous than was expected, and the resulting discovery has ramifications for all of humankind. Taking place almost entirely aboard the cargo vessel Kassandra, the small crew rattling around a gigantic ship is naturally creepy and despite the size of the craft it still manages to feel claustrophobic. An atmospheric soundtrack and moments of extreme tension make this a purposefully unrelaxing watch, there's a sense of a malevolent presence onboard and this is used to good effect by constantly making you feel that something unfortunate is brewing and regularly making you jump. The visual effects are impressive, sometimes the CGI is noticeable and the black of space is a bit 'pale' meaning that spacecraft can sometimes appear a tad superimposed - but those observations are particularly nit-picky and overall this small budget Swiss film looks better than most Hollywood films. The High-Definition transfer looks great, there is generally a good level of detail (with some scenes looking a little 'smooth' but very clean). Tricky light-levels are managed well where garish lights and gloomy greys appear together, the darker areas are still clear and the bright aspects aren't washed out. The lighting adds to the ambience and I was always convinced of the grand scale of the industrial looking Kassandra. This is a German-language film and the subtitles aren't intrusive, there's actually not a great deal of dialogue in the film so even those who tend not to watch foreign language films shouldn't have any real issue with Cargo. The only place where this Blu-Ray package lacks is in the extras department - a trailer is all we get, perhaps the good stuff was all in German!

In a nutshell: Fans of slow-paced, cerebral Science-Fiction will find that this makes an excellent addition to your film collection alongside 2001 - A Space Odyssey, it's not as original as Kubrick's masterpiece but from the stunning opening shots to the poignant redirection of human hope it represents the type of intelligent, hard Sci-Fi which we rarely get these days.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and claustrophobic.., 20 Mar. 2012
By 
G. G. Buxton Smither (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cargo [DVD] (DVD)
This is at face value a somewhat formulaic science fiction film - several people in the claustrophobic confines of a ship in deep space gradully being whittled down by an 'unseen enemy' - but it is worth the watch.

None of the German cast is known to me but they were all credible and the acting quite natural. The SFX were perhaps not state-of-the-art but where they creaked a little, it did not detract from the narrative of the film. What makes this, to me, very interesting is the background plot of using humans in a state of unconsciousness to create a neural network that in this case projects a fantasy world to the rest of unsuspecting humanity. We are entering a phase right now which can be termed 'trans-humanity' and with a huge amount of research being conducted on the unconscious activities of the brain, the plot has an uncomfortable resonance that may have a certain prescience to it.

It was worth persevering with though I doubt I will return to it very often.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Simulacra Conspiracy., 18 July 2010
This review is from: Cargo [DVD] (DVD)
Oh dear, man has destroyed Mother Earth and rendered it an uninhabitable planet again but salvation is an option for those lucky enough to have acquired the big funds needed for citizenship on the paradise planet of Rhea. For the underprivileged that remain there's the alternative option of residing in one of the orbiting space station/city monstrosities delivering building supplies to some remote corner of the universe. Doctor Laura Portmann has enlisted herself for duties on board the rusty space-freight Kassandra with her main objective being to raise enough money to eventually join her sister on Rhea but after awakening from her designated period in cryogenic sleep, a large pod filled with a solution resembling frozen semolina, she discovers that something, or someone else is on board.

Although it appears, in the initial stages, to be going in the same direction as Ridley Scott's Alien, this German language Sci-fi from Switzerland soon alters course and enters an alternative premise that has more in common with Danny Boyle's Sunshine. For instance, it creates that grinding reality of interstellar space travel without the luxuries inherent of the Star Trek franchise like: teleportation, phaser guns, warp drive and, refreshingly, no captain's log; but, Yoshida the shy systems analyst does look like she could be a candidate for Spock's illegitimate love child. The final act plots new coordinates again and briefly enters the conceptual realms of Daniel F. Galouye's 1964 Sci-fi book: Simulacron-3.

The interior production designs inside the Kassandra give the impression that a multitude of secrets lurk deep within the ships dark crevices, more so than the skittish, and in some cases unscrupulous, members of the crew who all seem to have conflicting agendas. This provides the viewer with a sustained level of mystery and heightens the intense atmospherics generated by an impressive score and moody lighting effects. Sadly, all this rather impressive work by the Director and his team is ultimately let down by a script which does lack originality and the apparent lack of funds that inadvertently create too many moments of laughter - like the waltz of twirling death between Doctor Portmann and Space Marshall Decker.

Cargo is far from being a masterpiece, it suffers from being a tad confusing at times and the impressive visuals are let down by some old concepts like the multi-coloured paste cuisines that look about as appetizing as a plate of playdough, but it is an enjoyable watch that will be appreciated by the majority of this genres fanatics despite the blatant cloning of ideas from acclaimed Sci-fi's of yesteryear.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Switzerland's first sci-fi film is pretty good, 18 April 2013
This review is from: Cargo [DVD] (DVD)
I don't usually dabble in world cinema (although there are a few notable exceptions), but I REALLY enjoyed this.

In a nut shell, the Earth has had it and the population live in overcrowded space stations that would make Arthur C Clarke proud. Humanities only hope is to get to and develop Reah - a habitble world. Cue big space ships, eco-terrorists who argue that the Earth is not dead, years of isolation and lonliness, flickering shadows, and a hull full of humans in cryo sleep.

I thought this was a slick and stylish thriller (not so much horror) that played well on a lot of fears. It was a very pretty film (good use of CGI), reasonably well acted, and well directed.

My only reservation is the love-interest and associated subplot - completely unnecessary, and it felt crow-barred in.

But on the whole, this is definetly a movie I would watch again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, solid intelligent Sci-fi, 25 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Cargo [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this along with a few other titles, looking for intelligent sci-fi in the way you get in the likes of 'Silent Running' or more recently, 'Moon'. This was one of the films I think lived up to that hope. It unfolds at a decent pace & has a decent twist on affairs. If you're looking for a good solid piece of Sci-fi, far removed from the Hollywood trend for big bangs & alien invasion, I'd recommend it as a great wee film for about £5.
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