In Atomica, safety inspector Abby Dixon (Sarah Habel) flies out to inspect an isolated nuclear power plant, she discovers that the plant’s two employees are both acting very strangely. Not only must Abby fix the plant’s communications control, she must determine who she can trust. If anyone…
Atomica is an annoyingly mediocre sci-fi flick that is impossible to love or hate. At only 70 minutes long, with a story line that is strangely compelling and a trio of actors that aren’t too shabby, it’s easy to get to the end of its run-time without wanting to switch it off entirely, but you probably won’t be rushing out to tell anyone about it. This isn’t a film that will linger long after the closing credits with its unique and thoughtful observations on the human condition, but as a quick and easy distraction, you could do a lot worse.
It may not offer the most unique story line, but it is easy to be gripped by Abby’s conundrum. Her choice between two mean that appear equally as deceptive is cunningly enthralling thanks to a story that is quite clever and genuinely puzzling. The truth is not laid out as predictably as you might expect and even though it doesn’t have quite the impact it should have, the eventual revelation is believable and satisfying. There is an over-arching idea throughout Atomica that is familiar and important to consider when trying to beat Abby to the punch and, admittedly I didn’t, but should have been able to slightly piece this puzzle together quicker.
Atomica’s biggest crime is its lack of intensity, especially as Abby fights to decide which of the two men she can trust. Despite Dominic Monaghan‘s energetic performance as Robinson and Habel’s effusive portrayal of a woman intent on proving her power, it never quite manages to equal the extreme levels of paranoia that reside in fellow claustrophobic endeavour The Thing or match Moon’s degree of surprise as its truth is unwound. There is very little drama within Atomica as it moves in a consistently lacklustre pace through its mysterious roller-coaster ride. A lack of punch and a generally muted atmosphere fails to let Atomica make its mark and become a truly necessary sci-fi thriller.
For all its short-comings, the visual flair of director Dagen Merrill allows Atomica to present a believably futuristic world that is awash with bright greens and reds, contrasted with shadows that provide subtle reminders of this perfect world’s very big problems. Aside from expected budgetary constraints that prevent Atomica from delivering the polished and eye-popping special effects that it deserves, it is hard to criticise a film that is clearly trying to craft a world that is visually appealing. A deviation from the frequent use of stark greys and silvers to suggest the future is refreshing; allowing Atomica to soar with its exterior, even if the story within is less exciting.
Atomica is a mildly entertaining, but mediocre adventure into a supposedly bright future, but its ironic lack of energy will hinder the enjoyment. It’s certainly not the worst film that Syfy has offered and is an improvement on its run of tiresome b-movie-style monster movies, but Atomica leaves very little to be discussed and a few hours after watching it, you may struggle to remember if you even did.