Article updated: 2022.01.20
The Sputnik (2020) is a sci-fi / thriller film. The movie was reviewed by Kadmon.
Product: Sputnik, movie (2020)
Original title: Спутник, English title: Sputnik
Setting: alternate Earth
Product type: Film, Genre: sci-fi / thriller, Style: sci-fi, thriller
Release: Premiere: 2020.04.15. Digital release: 2020.04.23
Reviewer: Kadmon, Type: Male, 40s, Preferences: Immersive, logical story, consistent setting, prefers surprises to spoilers, prefers establishing elements before referencing them
Watched: very recent (2020.11), first time
Rating: Good (2+ out of 3 points), Enjoyment: Good (2+ out of 3 points)
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This is my review of Sputnik, a sci-fi thriller movie from 2020. It's about scientists investigating what happened to the survivor of a space accident. The Sputnik film is interesting, I recommend it.
If you'd like to be surprised by the Sputnik film, I don't recommend you to watch the trailer beyond 0:55, because it gives away too much of the plot. It basically provides a summary of the film, up to the ending scene, it's only the very end we are not shown.
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I'm not sure where I've heard about the Sputnik movie, but it caught my interest, and went on my "to watch" list. When I had the chance, I watched it. I didn't watch the trailer, I hoped I could trust my sources, and I didn't want to spoil the movie.
The Sputnik movie is about scientists investigating what happened to the survivor of a space accident, as he doesn't remember anything. The story goes into sci-fi / thriller territory as the plot progresses.
The story is solid and complete. There are character arcs. There are emotions that can draw in the viewer. The whole thing is pretty well written, except for some plot elements that could have been better.
The cinematography is good. It shows that the creators know what they are doing.
The actors are okay. The characters are a little bland, but not out of place. They are not very engaging, but the focus is on the plot anyway.
The music is good. It is thrilling, grandiouse. The music used to enhance our feelings, emotions effectively.
Sputnik is a good sci-fi thriller, I think fans of the genre will enjoy it.
I was satisfied with Sputnik (2020). As someone brough up under the Soviet regime, the movie raised some childhood memories, so that was a plus for me.
I happen to like stories with well-thought, logical plots, and Sputnik delivered just that.
Rating: Good (2+ out of 3 points). Sputnik is a well-made film.
Enjoyment: Good (2+ out of 3 points). Sputnik is interesting, I liked it.
Rewatchability: I'm not sure. I think it's mostly the surprise of the story that makes you feel interested.
Chance of watching it again: There's a chance. Now that I know the story, there's probably no need to watch it again, but I liked it enough that I might watch it in the right circumstances.
Chance of watching a sequel: High. I'd sure watch it.
Will you enjoy this?
If you like mystery or thriller movies, you might like Sputnik.
If you like horror or action thriller movies (Alien, Life, Splice), you might like the film, although there are not many action scenes or scary scenes in the Sputnik movie.
If you like scientific research stories (Andromeda Strain), you might like Sputnik, although the focus is not really on the research and investigation.
Watching for plot points
If you are interested in research stories, I think it's worth watching the Sputnik movie for the plot points.
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I liked the Sputnik movie.
The title "Sputnik" means "companion", reflecting on the fact that the astronaut brought an alien creature with him from space.
Promise of the first scene
We see two astronauts talking causally while leaving a space station. One of them has a wife, and he talks about his plans with her. There seems to be something outside. I assume that the one with the wife will die horribly. Otherwise I have no clue what will be the story.
Execution: He did die. And this was probably a good beginning for the film.
Plot summary / Synopsis
1982: Soviet astronauts are leaving a space station, when there's some malfunction happening, and probably something outside. They are next seen landing in the Soviet Union, both of them badly damaged.
Next we get introduced to a psychiatrist, who is about to get fired for misconduct, although she is adamant that she did the right thing. She gets recruited to the facility where they keep the returned astronaut. We get to know that the astronaut has a kid, who is now in an orphanage, because his mother died, and the astronaut didn't know about the kid until her death.
She finds out there's a symbiote creature living in the astronaut, that comes out of his body at night. She starts to communicate with the creature. She meets with the astronaut in secret, who tells her that she is able to feel everything the creature does.
After she finds out they keep feeding live humans to the creature so it can eat their brains to get fear hormones, she decides to free the astronaut. During one of the feedings, she stands before the intended victim, and the astronaut is able to stop the creature. They try to get away, but they are stopped by the guards. They let the creature out of the astronaut to deal with the guards, while they tried to get away in a car. The guards shoot the creature until it is defeated. The astronaut gets worse, so the psychiatrist stops the car so he can be reunited with the creature. She tells him that they are unable to live without each other. The soldiers reach them, and open up the cage of the creature, but it kills all of the soldiers, before it crawls into the astronaut. The astronaut shoots himself.
Later, the psychiatrist gets to the orphanage to adopt the son of the astronaut.
We also get to know that the psychiatrist also grew up in an orphanage.
1982, in the Soviet Union. The only fantastic element I've found in the movie is the alien creature. (And possibly the stupidity of the soldiers.)
The creature in the Sputnik film is able to change the physiology of the host to be able to crawl inside the mouth, then be hosted in inside. In the movie they say it extends the stomach by 30%, and that it's 30 cm long while inside. When it gets out, it can extend its size (probably to the height of a human). It crawls on the ground, but it can jump large distances.
It is able to release a toxin that knocks a human out, while relaxes the muscles. The creature eats cortisol (stress hormone), straight from the brain of humans sacrificed for the creature. While it uses the host to incubate, it is able to adapt itself to the environment of its surroundings, as every day it is able to leave the host for a couple of minutes more.
It is in a telepathic relationship with its host. The host is able to control the creature.
I assume that the creature is able to withstand the vacuum of space. Although it might be that it was something else, or an adult creature that opened the Russian rocket in the beginning, because the creature we see in the movie doesn't look very intelligent.
It seems to me that the creature might be some kind of artificial biological construct by an alien species to be used as a remote controlled tool, otherwise it wouldn't make much sense why would it allow itself to be controlled by the host. Getting information from the brain of the host would be enough to give it an advantage. If the creature were able to control the host, that would make more sense for a naturally evolved creature.
The creature is basically humanoid with some alien features. I'm not sure whether it's its original shape, or if it's part of its adaptation. The creature gestated in the human host, so it might be that it copied DNA to get four limbs to work better in our environment.
Alteori has a theory that the pheromones released by the host made the psychiatrist care more about him, possibly fallen in love with the host.
The message of the story
I'm not sure there's one.
There's a sub-plot about being physically disadvantaged doesn't make you invalid, but it doesn't really get any reinforcements in the story itself.
The structure of the story
The scenes of the Coma film are mostly played in sequence, following the same storyline. There are some scenes that look like a parallel storyline, but end the end it becomes clear that they are actually flashbacks. It has the usual arc of the dramatic structure.
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Things I liked
- I liked the look of the creature.
- I liked how the military commander made his previous lies look like a minor thing, and how he always promised that will be his last time he lied.
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How does it compare to the other works of the creators?
I haven't seen any other works of the director (Egor Abramenko).
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I mostly liked the story, I didn't find problems that would have prevented me from enjoying Sputnik.
Elements I find problematic
Actions driven by the plot: During the film, every soldier acted in ways to forward the plot. When they try to meet, there's conveniently no camera in the astronaut's room, so he could seduce the guard, and leave. When they try to get away, the soldier conveniently leaves the monitor room so they won't be seen. When they are almost defeated, the soldiers conveniently let the creature out of the cage. In many cases, it would have been better to just cut to the end, leaving their action to our imaginations, because it just shows us how inept these people are. The very last confrontation was really stupid, I just couldn't understand why would they let the creature out in the open, instead of taking the astronaut back, and join them safely.
The first contact scene: It's not that much of a problem, but they drew the scene for a bit too long. After she decides that she's going to enter the room with the creature, there was no real suspense - we knew that she is going to do it. Asking her for confirmation, and then watching her get dressed felt boring.
Human sacrifice: They let the creature eat live humans, to feed on the corisol in their brains. They could just drain the cortisol from the patients, and feed the creature that. Teaching it that it could just kill the people around it to feed on is a very bad idea, as they want to use the creature as a trained animal in the army.
The orphanage: While it was a good idea, the execution felt cheap for me. When we see the little kid, the viewer assumes it's the son of the astronaut, especially as she is referred to as "a boy". In her last scene, she announces her name, that happens to be the name of the psychiatrist. So, all of those scenes were in the past, and when we finally see the boy of the astronaut, he's another character. The aim of those scenes were to misdirect the viewer, and I don't think this movie needed it.
Cortisol: According to the movie, the creature eats the brain to harvest cortisol. However, I'm not sure how much cortisol would be in the brain. It is produced near the kidneys, in the adrenal glands, then it gets in the blood stream. Eating the brain would give a small amount of cortisol, but sucking the blood would be an efficient way. So, either it's something actually in the brain the creature needs, or it should be a bloodsucking vampire.
Most of the posters are just awful. They not only spoil the movie, many of them not even reflect the plot. It was hard for me to find a poster to use as the preview image for this article.
The trailer spells out a large part of the story, up to almost the ending scene. So if you watch the trailer, you will already know there's a creature inside the astronaut, the psychiatrist will turn against the team, they will leave to compound, there will be firefight.
If you prefer spoilers, it's a great trailer for the Sputnik film. If you prefer to avoid spoilers, it can ruin the movie for you.
Where did the creature come from?
How did the creature get on the spaceship?
Who gave the psychiatrist those running shoes when she was little? And why?
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Possibilities of improvement
How it could have been better?
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Scenarios - Role-playing game
Scenarios - Wargame
Miniatures - 1/50-1/60 (28-32mm scale)
The soldiers: Human-sized modern soldiers.
The creature: Human-sized or large creature. You'll probably need to kit-bash it.
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Michael Crichton: The Andromeda Strain (1969): Scientific research.
Alien (1979): Alien creature killing people.
The Andromeda Strain (1971): Scientific research. Based on the The Andromeda Strain novel.
The Andromeda Strain (2008): Scientific research. Based on the The Andromeda Strain novel.
Life (2017): Scientific research, alien creature killing people.
Splice (2009): A creature killing people.
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Will this movie be available with English audio dub?
Currently (in 2020) Sputnik is not available with English audio dub, just English subtitles.
What's up with the boy in the wheelchair?
The boy is actually a girl, the psychiatrist, who had a surgery to make her able to move. You can see the surgery scars on her spine when she is having a shower.
Is the Sputnik film based on a book or comics?
No, Sputnik is not based on either books or comics.
Is there a post credit scene in Sputnik?
No, there's no post credit scene in Sputnik.
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Sputnik: Official article.
IMDB: Sputnik (2020) : Database article.
WikiPedia: Sputnik (film): Database article.
Letterboxd: Sputnik 2020: Database article.
Rotten Tomatoes: Sputnik 2020: Database article.
Arina Grabovskaya (on ArtStation): Sputnik: Concept art article.
Ryan Lattanzio: ‘Sputnik’: Designing an Alien Inspired by Snakes and Komodo Dragons in a Rare Russian Sci-Fi — Spoilers: Article about the creature design.
Yuriy Khudov (on ArtStation): Sputnik: Concept art article.
Reviews with no spoilers - Sputnik film (2020)
Derek Jacombs (for A Debt To Pleasure): Two Russian Films: Review article about the Sputnik film and Coma movie, with minor spoilers.
Marianna Neal (for Impression Blend): 👩🚀 Sputnik (2020) | Movie Review: Review video about the Sputnik film with no spoilers.§
Movies And Munchies: Sputnik (2020) Movie Review: Review video of the Sputnik movie with minor spoilers, not more than the trailer.§
Mr H Reviews: SPUTNIK 2020 REVIEW - Russian Creature Feature!: Review video about the Sputnik film with no spoilers.§
Reviews with spoilers - Sputnik film (2020)
greigzilla (for We've Got (Back) Issues): Sputnik: Review article of the movie, with spoilers.
Tony (for Reel Time Flicks): Sputnik (2020): Review article of the movie, with spoilers.
Analysis - Sputnik movie (2020)
Alteori: SPUTNIK 2020 Ending EXPLAINED: Analysis video, explaining the finale of Sputnik.§
Alteori: SPUTNIK Alien monster Biology: Analysis video about the creature in Sputnik.
Alteori: Who was the REAL villain in SPUTNIK: Analysis video about the story.
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Have you seen the Sputnik film? How do you like the movie? Would you recommend it to others? Do you know reviews or resources you'd like to add? What further thoughts do you have about it? Tell your opinion in the comments!