Sci-Fi/ Superheroes: ‘Space Sweepers’

Screenshot of Kim Tae-ri as Captain Jang, Song Joong-Ki as Tae-ho, and Bubs voiced by Yoo Hae-jin in ‘Space Sweepers’. Copyright goes to Bidangil Pictures, Dexter Studios, and Netflix.

Hey! Hallie here!

A lot of people have been recommending this movie recently and I’ve seen a lot of people upset that this movie isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. So I finally decided to watch it and see what all the hype was about. This movie is incredible. From it’s characters to it’s story to it’s messages, this movie has impressed me more than any movie that’s come out in the last few years. There is so much I want to talk about, but I want to start this out by encouraging you to go watch this movie right now. I will be diving into some SPOILER territory and you will absolutely want to go into this movie blind. If you’re still here, awesome! Let’s talk about what I loved about this movie.

The Languages:

This is the first thing I noticed watching the movie. The film is a South Korean film and it’s main actors are South Korean. But it’s long list of side characters are from a range of different nationalities. Every character introduced from a different country speaks their own language. The movie gives all of it’s characters machinery by their ear that translates languages for them and allows them to communicate in return. So when you hear a character speaking French, they will be speaking French for the majority of the movie regardless of who they’re speaking to. Throughout the movie you can hear Korean, English, French, Chinese, Filipino, and many many more languages. The movie shows a deep respect for various cultures and gives us a glimpse of what movies can be like without the barriers we usually put up.

The Characters:

Any good movie gives you rich characters to relate to throughout the movie. Most movies with an ensemble cast start out with the cast separated so their personalities can be explored individually before they come together. But at the start of this movie we already see our main characters as the crew of the ship “Victory”, and they’ve been a group for some time. This is what the movie does so brilliantly. It slowly unfolds the characters personalities and backstories as the movie goes on so that, by the end, you discover why they work so well together in the first place. The movie does this by introducing the character of Dorothy. Dorothy, or Kot-nim, is a small child who is supposedly a dangerous bomb. However, after the crew accidentally come across her, she slowly reveals a much less terrifying and much more adorable personality. As she begins to chip away at the crew’s hard exteriors, we get to see who they truly are.

Tae-ho, the character we follow for most of the movie, is obsessed with money. He will do whatever it takes to get his hands on it, even, early on in the film, selling Kot-nim to an apparent terrorist organization. However, his obsession with wealth isn’t completely selfish. He had a daughter who was swept into space during an attack. There was the possibility that she could be retrieved, but he had no money to pay for such services. He was also told that he’d have to obtain the money before his daughter drifted out of orbit and could no longer be retrieved. Because of this, he joined the crew to obtain said money as fast as possible. He’s initially very cold towards Kot-nim because selling her will make him the money he needs and because she reminds him too much of his lost daughter. But when he finally obtains the money at the cost of Kot-nim, he realizes that his daughter would be disappointed in him for the way he’s been acting. He comes back to the team just in time to get Kot-nim back and shift his determination to a much better cause.

Captain Jang is a former Special Forces Squad officer who left the force to form her own pirate gang and attempt to assassinate her former boss, James Sullivan. She didn’t succeed and wound up dreaming of revenge while turning to alcoholism. As the movie goes on she also begins to warm to Kot-nim, and as such, begins to feel more responsible for both her and the crew. Coming face to face with Sullivan after years of dreaming confirms for her that revenge is no longer what drives her. Instead, she shows her capabilities as a true leader of multiple crews and as a protector.

Tiger Park is the very first person to warm to Kot-nim. He’s well known for his scary appearance and had prior been sentenced to death on Earth for gang affiliations and selling drugs. But it only takes Kot-nim drawing his picture for him to decide that her well being is more important than his own. He’s the character the audience gets to see unfurl before their eyes first. He goes from intensely frightening criminal to a devoted father in minutes. He’s still very intimidating, though, and his fight scenes are some of the most badass in the entire movie.

Bubs is a robot who’s obsession with money is only rivaled by Tae-ho’s. This character trait is waved away as the greediness commonly seen in pirates. But when Bubs starts to question Kot-nim about being an android, before she learns Kot-nim is actually a real girl, we see her true intentions. Bubs wants the money to give herself android upgrades, giving her the feminine traits she knows suit her. As the movie goes on she learns to trust and love the crew that has supported her dreams and nearly sacrifices her life for them. By the end of the movie she still turns to Kot-nim for advice on her upgrades.

The Messages:

This movie has a lot it wants to say, and it does it very well. It’s entire cast is diverse and one of it’s main characters is a robot who identifies as Transfeminine. It’s pretty obvious that one of this movie’s main goals is to promote acceptance of all types of people. At it’s core, however, this movie is a giant criticism of rich society. It’s main characters are criminals, but the movie doesn’t judge them for it. The movie instead points out that the rich members of society have forced them into positions of poverty. They have taken all the resources and left others to suffer. Meanwhile, a major corporation has decided to create their own Utopia for the people who the CEO, James Sullivan, deems worthy. However, in order to sell this idea, James Sullivan realizes that Earth must be destroyed to leave Mars as the only option for humanity. So he decides to expedite the process by destroying Earth, reasoning that it’s inhabitants are mostly poor and insignificant anyway. The villainization of major corporations and those that look down on the poor isn’t unwarranted. It sends a strong message that our current society is flawed and is due for a change.

I could talk about this movie all day, but I’ll leave it here for now. Once again, I’ll remind you to watch this movie because it deserves a watch. In fact, it deserves several watches. It’s incredible characters, acting, casting, messages, story, and everything in between make it unforgettable. It’s definitely my favorite movie that I’ve watched in quarantine so far.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!


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