Written and directed by Ravi Ajit Chopra, 'Cognition' is a science fiction short that charts the journey of Abner, from his early days with his father Elias on a desert planet to working for a highly advanced totalitarian state.
A story of love, loss and ultimately redemption, 'Cognition' has several things going for it. With a world-renowned actor such as Andrew Scott in the mix, the film has big shoes to fill, and it doesn't disappoint. Featuring spectacular worlds, slick spaceships and inhospitable terrains, the film promises a rollicking adventure and does not fail to deliver. Chopra keeps the film grounded and is careful not to let the fantastical special effects overshadow the core of the film, which is the relationship between father and son that will stand the test of time.
Andrew Scott ('Sherlock', 'Spectre') is marvellous, and Jeremy Irvine as his adult son Abner brings his own set of charisma to the table. At the heart of the film is the emotional connection between a father and a son, who have been separated forever due to the machinations of an evil empire. Scott and Irvine bring this relationship to light with nuance and depth, and it is this bond that allows Abner to break free from the shackles of the empire later on.
However, this is where the film runs into some minor issues. The derivative nature of the story means that we have seen this play out numerous times before with one man, haunted by the trauma of his past, mustering enough courage to go rogue against a fascist intergalactic empire. Chopra does not reinvent the wheel here, he merely polishes the story with spectacular CGI. While the film looks and feels very expensive for a short film, one cannot help but look past its flashy effects into its narrative issues. Other than these issues, the film’s sound mixing and editing are on point, and the 25-minute film condenses a fair bit of the plot into its short running time.
A tale of imaginative science fiction that doesn't quite shake off its genre conventions, 'Cognition' is emotive, entertaining and looks spectacular. With story and plot points that have been done before in science fiction, the real strength of the film lies in its remarkable effects that, for a short film, are nothing less than spectacular and rival any mid-budget Hollywood production.