[box cover]

Spacehunter

When Pitch Black hit theaters in 2000 it was greeted with a generous amount of enthusiasm by sci-fi fans. But some mainstream moviegoers didn't understand what the fuss was about, thinking that the hype was unwarranted for a movie that's just moderately entertaining. But Pitch Black was popular not because it was as good as Star Wars or 2001, but instead because it wasn't as bad as Spacehunter and the multitude of cheap sci-fi flicks that tried to cash in on the George Lucas bandwagon. Spacehunter stars the very bland Peter Strauss as Wolff, a loner garbage-man who takes on a mission when he hears of a large bounty for three lost girls. But he has to go to the planet of Terra Eleven, which has been ravaged by toxic wars, and where the human survivors are either completely malformed or speak an annoyingly manufactured, slightly-off English ("They were uplifted" and "These are trust words?" are just two examples). In the midst of it all, the lost girls are being held by the — um — Overdog (Michael Ironside), a half-man half-machine who enjoys kinky sex and watching people run through mazes. But the wisecracking Wolff can't make it through the offworld alone, so he gathers some help from the plucky offworlder Niki (Molly Ringwald, a year before John Hughes made her a star), while also crossing paths with Washington (Ernie Hudson), who is also after the bounty. Released in 1983 during the new wave of 3-D movies (alongside such classics as Friday the 13th Part 3, Jaws 3-D and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn), and directed by Lamont Johnson (who like much of the cast never seems to take the film too seriously) Spacehunter is uninspired. There are small things to savor for the enthusiast: the budget is better endowed than the Roger Corman knock-offs, and genre clichés can make genre films a little more entertaining. And clichés are where Spacehunter goes into hyperdrive. A wise-cracking anti-hero who can only be redeemed by love? Check. Midgets in awkward costumes? Check. Absurd maze sequence that plays like a bad game of Dungeons & Dragons? Check. Sexually perverse bad guy who's part machine? Check! Columbia TriStar's DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1, but incorrectly labeled 2.35:1) and pan-and-scan transfers. Unfortunately neither is in 3-D, which might have made the film more entertaining. Dolby Digital 4.0 audio, bonus trailers. Keep-case.
—DSH



Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]

Back to Main Page