Syfy's Ascension Transcends Traditional Science Fiction

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Ascension, with Brian Van Holt as Captain William Denninger

In 1963, the U.S. took the lead in the space race with the launch of the Ascension -- a monstrous rocket propelled by nuclear blasts, carrying a crew of over 300 people in a self-sustaining environment not unlike a cruise ship. Their goal: to travel 100 years through deep space to Proxima Centauri. The crew would not survive the trip. Their children would likely not reach the destination. The grandchildren were the ones destined to be those who be the first humans from Earth to set foot on another planet.

In 2014, fifty-one years after the launch and one year past the point of no return, the unthinkable happens aboard the ship: a murder. Designated as an accident, Captain William Denninger (Brian Van Holt) nonetheless quietly assigns XO Aaron Gault (brandon P. Bell) to investigate. With no police training -- indeed with no security forces built into the entire structure of the crew, which has grown in size over the past fifty-one years -- Gault must rely on unusual sources to learn how to do policework.

Meanwhile, society aboard the Ascension has evolved along a track somewhat different than back on Earth. Fashion still leans toward the 1960s, and all entertainment is reruns of the films of the time. But there is certainly class division, with people like the Captain's wife, Vondra (Tricia Helfer), cunningly ensuring that her husband remains in power thus ensuring her position, while toil away in the lower decks in water reclamation and other more menial duties.

Power plays, intrigue, murder, suspense -- so many elements are coming together neatly for Syfy's ASCENSION, and this doesn't even touch the jaw-dropping answer to the question: How does Harris Enzmann (Gil Bellows) at Ground Control on Earth know the intimate details of what's happening aboard the ship? This is some serious science fiction drama that breaks new ground and will reward the viewer with dramatic scenes and incredible surprises. ASCENSION is a three-night event which makes its debut on Monday, December 15 at 9/8c. For those used to Syfy fare along the lines of SHARKNADO and SHARKTOPUS, be assured that ASCENSION is serious scienc fiction, dynamically filmed (the camera pull-out shot during the first scene is amazing) and acted with sincerity on the part of all involved. The story considers several aspects of a journey of this magnitude, including how the successive generations on board the ship might develop, psychologically, as they cope with the knowledge that their fates were decided for them before they were even born.

There's not much more I can say without seriously spoiling the story. I can only urge you to check this one out and enjoy the ride.

The cast (and crew) of ASCENSION.
Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0