Review: ANIARA Is Unapologetically True Sci-Fi That Gets Muddled At Times


While delving fully into its sci-fi roots, the film falls flat too often by only showcasing certain dilemmas on a surface level, rather than giving every instance equal spotlight. Still, it is very intriguing throughout its runtime, and poses many thought-provoking questions.
Technical Merit

It’s always refreshing to witness a film that is unapologetically true to itself, and Aniara most definitely fits into this category. This Swedish sci-fi film isn’t watered down for general audiences, but instead, it revels in its dark outlook on facing the inevitable. It doesn’t hold back in its terms of pacing, which is crucial for a film with a premise like this. When a spaceship transporting countless humans from the dying Earth to Mars is knocked off course, the terrifying question arises: what now? And Aniara does a great job at highlighting just a few of these infinite possibilities. Made up of a variety of vignettes, as the ship remains stranded, the film constantly unsettles its audience and locks them in for an introspective look at humanity itself.

With a premise that feels like a blend between The Matrix and High Life, it’s important for Aniara that its presentation differs greatly from both films. For example, the earlier chapters of being stuck on the ship revolve around MIMA, a simulation that transports its users to memories of Earth in the past. It is used as a therapeutic escape for the passengers, and as time progresses, more and more flock to the MIMA chambers. Yet the deeply unsettling prospect of turning off reality for a virtual landscape is highlighted greatly. When countless individuals are shown laying face down, secluded from the real world, it incites a sense of dread comparable to looking at a sea of people buried in their phones. And the unsettling dread of the film only increases as the ship drifts further into the unknown.

A still image from Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja’s ANIARA.

So which would be better? A simulated existence in MIMA, or the reality of endlessly drifting into nothing? What’s great about the film is how both views are examined, and both sides have equal repercussions when all is said and done. And as the film shows, everyone must eventually embrace the inevitable, and the later chapters are when the true grim reality of the situation fully settles in. As cults begin forming and suicide rates rise, hope is a rare commodity in Aniara. This film has so many interesting aspects to dive into, and while many are explored, some uninteresting elements seem to be expanded upon a bit too much. In this regard, the film can feel as if it bouncing all over the place. Fortunately, when Aniara dives into the more interesting questions about humanity, it truly delves into the many layers of answers.

Emelie Jonsson as MR in Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja’s ANIARA.

From a technical perspective, Aniara has standout moments but reverts back to normalcy rather quickly. Some beautiful editing allows for moments within MIMA to feel transcendent, just as the device itself is used for the passengers. A humming score makes way for tense and alarming emotion as cults begin forming on the ship. And while the cult moments are arguably the highlight of the film, one craves more. While the imagery is definitely alarming, the cults are only shown on a surface level, leaving much to the imagination. However, any sci-fi that is halfway decent should elicit some deep thought on the matter at hand, and in this regard, the film succeeds. But in times of bland direction, it’s second nature to desire a bit more from the already ambitious film.

Aniara is based off a poem of the same name, so instead of being a full adaptation, the film creates a narrative surrounding the themes touched upon. The recurring idea of hope being lost is the crux, but there’s no short supply of other concepts. Aniara succeeds in its attempt of painting a larger picture than what is occurring on the ship itself. Going farther into the unknown than any other living being should be massive, but for those aboard, what was the cost? As hope is regained, and subsequently lost, time and time again, minds begin to crumble. Humans have always been a small part of an infinitely massive universe, and Aniara finally puts this into perspective for its characters. The message comes at a bit of a cost for the film as a whole, but overall, Aniara is unadulterated sci-fi, and cinema needs more of it.

Magnolia Pictures will release Aniara in theaters on May 17, 2019.


Personalize • This is How U Hulu with Brad Hall

Watch Brad Hall show Hulu who’s boss and get personalized recommendations based on what he loves. SUBSCRIBE TO HULU’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL Click the link to subscribe to our channel for the latest shows & updates: START YOUR FREE TRIAL FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL Instagram: Hulu on Twitter: Facebook:

Star Trek: Discovery – The Vulcan Hello (Sneak Peek 3)

In the series premiere, while patrolling Federation space, the U.S.S. Shenzhou encounters an object of unknown origin, putting First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) to her greatest test yet.

INTERVIEW: Director Kyle Couch Talks The Tent And Learning From Filmmaking

The Tent is a survival film in a post-apocalyptic world directed by Kyle Couch and starring Tim Kaiser (Star Trek: Horizon) as David, a man surviving on his own until another survivor emerges and brings doubt to David’s way of life in the process.

Korean Movies to Watch on Amazon Prime Video (2020)

Bong Joon Ho took the world by storm this Oscar season, but here are more amazing Korean films to check out on Amazon Prime Video! Make sure to check out Train to Busan, The Wailing, The Handmaiden, and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring. » SUBSCRIBE: About Prime Video: Want to watch it now? We've…

Archer | Nope | FXX

Yup. Nope. Yuuuuup. Nooooope. Archer returns for an all-new season 9/16 on FXX – Next day FX on Hulu. Subscribe now for more Archer clips: In season 11 of FXX‘s comedy Archer, “Sterling Archer“ is ready to return to the spy world after a three-year coma. While many things changed during his absence, Archer…

World’s Funniest Animals | Episode 102 Promo | The CW

World's Funniest Animals premieres Friday, September 18. Stream next day free only on The CW! SUBSCRIBE: About The CW: Official YouTube Channel for The CW Network featuring the hit series Riverdale, as well as Black Lightning, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supernatural, The 100, Dynasty, In the Dark, and Roswell, New…

Veep: How to Survive Office Politics | HBO

Nobody navigates the tricky aspects of office politics as well as Selina Meyer and her crew. We hope you’re taking notes. #HBO #VEEP #SelinaMeyer Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is Vice President of the United States Selina Meyer, who finds the job is nothing like she expected, but everything her incompetent staff…

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Dark Reality of MMA (Promo) | HBO

It’s the dark, ugly reality of MMA. Fighters seeking an advantage cut drastic amounts of weight days before a bout, putting their lives at risk. Real Sports is all-new Tuesday, September 22 at 10PM on HBO and HBO Max. #HBO #RealSports Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: Real Sports is television’s most-honored sports journalism program,…
Alex Papaioannou
Alex Papaioannou
Born and raised in New York. I've always loved all things pop culture, but my true passion lies within film. And the only thing that I love more than watching movies is writing about them! Some close runner-ups are: food, the Yankees, and hip-hop.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here