We have seen rescue/thriller movies of all sorts, from Bus rides gone wrong to even films exploring the dangers of mountain climbing, but one sport that we really haven’t seen explored is the Hot Air Balloon. Outside of The Wizard of Oz, the Hot Air Balloon has not really been the lynch pin for any story as it does not seem like all that interesting of a plot device. I mean, for one, they are VERY slow and, well, short of falling off of one, there isn’t much danger outside of a rogue bird right? Well, in that you might actually be mistaken and that is where SOS Survive or Sacrifice comes in. Somehow, despite itself, SOS makes the sport of Ballooning a frightening prospect, especially when it comes to finding yourself adrift over one with strangers.
SOS follows Kate who, after reuniting with her estranged kid sister Liz, decides to take a a joyride in a balloon with strangers that soon results in a dangerous and frightening adventure when the balloon is accidentally set adrift with no chance of rescue. Meanwhile, Liz finds herself witnessing a failed robbery which just happens to involve one of Kate’s new friends. Now Liz is Kate’s only chance at being rescued but can the 11 year old find her sister in time? Does she even care? Starring William Baldwin, Jeannine Kaspar, Zach Rose, Diljohn Singh and Kseniya Pinch, this is SOS Survive or Sacrifice.
SOS Survive or Sacrifice immediately feels like a student film in need of significant editing and proof reading. The main plot involves a young woman (Jeanine Kaspar) who is taking her estranged Russian sister (Kseniya Pinch) home to the US via Cyprus, only to meet up with strangers after a party who soon find themselves adrift on the wind in a Hot Air Balloon which winds up over the sea. Yeah. There’s a lot going on. How does this happen, you ask, well don’t because describing how these people got into the mess they are in and if they are eventually saved involves a very random sequence of events that feels more like a Rube Goldberg machine than the plot of a movie. Toss in a strange botched robbery story and a CPS agent who is really bad at her job and you have the story of SOS.
That’s not to say there are not good moments in this film, in fact there are some rather intense moments involving windmills (no seriously) and even some pretty decent survival moments as the balloon drifts over the ocean, but these moments get lost in the rather convoluted plot. The cast certainly do their best with what they have to work with. Lead Jeanine Kaspar had some really great moments that, for some reason, kept reminding me of a young Sarah Silverman in a more serious role. Sadly none of them, not even the inclusion of well known Hollywood star William Baldwin (who seems to have been tossed in for name recognition), were strong enough to keep this film from floating away with itself. This is such a shame as filmmaker Roman Doronin seemed to put a lot of time and effort into the hot air balloon scenes, even ensuring that only practical effects were used. From actual burner flames to even filming in a real floating balloon, every moment in these segments were as real as possible and that makes the rather dull secondary plots all the more of a tragedy.
It wasn’t a total loss, however, as watching this film made me wonder just how dangerous Hot Air balloons were. I mean I have never had any inclination to ride one but I was surprised to learn that there have only been 42 hot air balloon accidents that have resulted in a death. The more interesting thing, this is since the advent of Hot Air Ballooning in 1785 which, ironically was also the first fatal aviation accident in recorded history. So, yeah Ballooning is actually pretty safe after all.
The Bottom Line
Much like hot air balloons themselves, this film is a slow burn that gets nowhere and sure takes it’s time going there. With a meandering and rather unbelievable plot supported by a rather unbalanced cast, SOS Survive or Sacrifice ends up a novel attempt at something fresh that never quite gets off the ground. Had Director Roman Doronin focused on the Hot Air Balloon survival story and shied away from the rather strange foreign sister plot or the shoehorned botched robbery story, it could have been a really intense tale taking the ‘lost at sea’ trope in a new direction. Instead we got a mess of a film that, while it had some good moments, they were never enough to make it worth the while. Roman is not a bad director, he has some good ideas, sadly those ideas found themselves just as lost as his characters were in this film.
I can not recommend watching this one for it’s story, but, if you want to see some pretty decent practical effects using a hot air balloon, those moments are actually pretty cool. If you have followed my blog at all, you know I am all about practical over CGI any day.
Filmed entirely on island of Cyprus, ‘S.O.S Survive or Sacrifice’ releases across all major VOD services in North Americ this week on October 27, 2020, including iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Xbox, Amazon, and FandangoNow.. DVD will be available on November 17th, 2020.
Late To The Game 10/25/2020
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
For more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!