Today’s two reviews are from films from the mid-90s, one of which was roundly panned on release, the other which seemed to sneak under the radar. This is the panned one. A low point, even in their chequered careers, of Dennis Hopper and Stephen Dorff, and an almost-unheard-of romantic leading lady part for Debi Mazar, how does this film hold up today?
The basic plot of this film is some executive decided he wanted to do a science fiction film that year, but the only scripts they had were fragments – a bit of a Western, a smidgeon of a sequel to “Convoy”, some “Aliens”, and the world’s stupidest love triangle film, and didn’t so much mash them together, as just do one bit, then another bit, then another bit. Charles Dance pops up at the beginning as a robot-inventing scientist, but he’s killed by his evil boss! No! Charles Dance makes any film automatically better just by his presence – FACT.
ASIDE 1: Don’t you hate it in films when someone military-ish says “the monsters are 1 mile away, repeat, 1 mile away”. Does anyone ever do this in real life?
John Canyon (Hopper) is one of the few remaining independent space truckers, and is transporting square pigs across the solar system. They’re in appalling battery conditions, and the film doesn’t appear to have a moral stand on this…just another example of how certain things like spaceships have progressed a great deal but they never bothered figuring out a decent synthetic alternative to pork. Norm off Cheers is the boss of the square pig company, and him trying to stiff Canyon starts off the film. Canyon’s favourite bartender, Cindy (Mazar) who he’s sort of guilted into agreeing to marry him, and Mike Pucci (Dorff), a company trucker waiting for his first run, join him as they’re all on the run from the space-law.
ASIDE 2: One of Norm’s henchmen inadvertently kills Norm by firing a hole in the side of the space station with a pistol, which sucks a bunch of stuff out. If you know this is likely to happen, why let anyone have a gun?
Rather than try and clear their names, they just decide to do some more trucking, Cindy and Mike strip down to their underwear on the flimsiest pretext, and take a secret load to a high Earth orbit, which we know to be loads of those robots from the beginning of the film (they had 5000 of them, apparently). They’re jacked by pirates, get to hear the immortal phrase “wang-pulse”, but do they make it back to Earth? Who does Cindy want to be with? What happens to those robots?
This film isn’t so much rotten as pointless. Absolutely soulless, it gives no reason for its own existence at any point. There’s no sense of the Universe these people operate in, they just bounce from one thing to another, and it’s the definition of the Shakespeare phrase “a tale told by an idiot…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Not so much plot holes as plot black holes! Because of the space setting! No, seriously, that’s a good joke.
First up are the robots. They’re super-tough, their container is said to be made out of near-indestructible material, and they’re due to be taken to high Earth orbit. So you’d think re-entry would be a doddle for them, right? Wrong. The containers are destroyed, as are the robots, while Canyon’s truck makes it down fine, ish. Then there’s Debi Mazar. She’s a fine looking woman, no doubt, but everything about her- her look, her voice – says “wacky best friend” rather than “main love interest for two guys”. Even in the grunge-loving days of the mid 90s, I don’t buy it (Janeane Garofalo, who is a roughly similar actress from a similar period, with a similar look, has something far more about her than Mazar).
There’s one redeeming feature, and that’s when Charles Dance pops up again as the Pirate King, as he managed to survive the attack on him at the beginning of the film. He realises what sort of film he’s in and hams it up superbly. Sadly, no-one else bothers, and when the film ends, everyone apart from reviewers who need to retain a few facts should just let it slip from their minds and into the mental recycle bin. Thumbs firmly down.