TL;DR – An emotional gut punch as you watch it all unravel
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Can you tell a compelling and heartfelt narrative in seven minutes with very little dialogue? That would actually be quite a challenge but today we get to look at an episode that does just that as it builds to a moment that breaks you.
So to set the scene, we open in on April the 5th, First Contact Day, a day of celebration but for two girls living in San Francisco it is a day of sadness in part. For Lil (Sadie Munroe) her dad (Jason Deline) is stuck working on the Mars Orbital Facility and can’t make it downwell to see her. On the other side, we have Kima (Ilamaria Ebrahim) whose mom (Joy Castro) also works on Mars at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards. In a moment of sadness, Lil accidentally knocks over Kima on the way to the shuttle pick up making Kima late for school and then it all spirals in from there.
Besides the short set up with the parents right at the start, this Short Trek is almost completely dialogue-free, but it still conveys such deep emotion. You feel Lil’s pain, Kima’s frustration and you can see how the unintended consequences flow from an accident to a full-on brawl. That pain is raw because it comes from a place that you can understand, Lil just wants to see her dad in person, and just can’t fully process the pain. So when we get the escalation, it becomes an outlet for that pain. This is the same for Kima who started out having a good day but then for no reason she is being sabotaged by this other girl. It is the folly of unintended consequences and lack of de-escalation but it is something we have all been a part of before and you feel it. This is brilliantly conveyed by the two young actors that have to capture a lot of very complicated emotions in such a short amount of time.
This Short Trek is also really good at building that tension, much like a series of dominoes falling one after another that you can’t seem to stop. The fight was inevitable but it also was entirely ephemeral, it was an emotional outlet because they didn’t know how else to work through it. All of this as Peter Gabriel’s cover of David Bowie’s Heroes plays as the two lives mirror each other. If the short had ended there it would have been a perfectly fine moment, but it doesn’t because it ratchets up the emotion even more. In a moment all of the pettiness and frustration is washed away. I think for anyone in my generation that remembers September 11 as it was happening would know that feeling of immediate dread. There is a power in tragedy wherein it can bring us together.
In the end, do we recommend The Children of Mars? Absolutely. Each of these Short Treks has excelled and I am sad that we are at the end of the current season. It was beautifully acted, well filmed, the production design was top-notch, and it told a really heartfelt story. I hope we get more of these in the future. Also a big shout out to Star Trek for now having content in every decade since the 60s.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek Short Trek
Directed by – Mark Pellington
Written by – Kirsten Beyer, Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet
Created by – Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
Based on – Star Trek: The Next Generation created by Gene Roddenberry
Starring – Ilamaria Ebrahim, Sadie Munroe, Joy Castro, Jason Deline, Andrea Davis, Alix Kell & Robert Verlaque