Outland (1981)

(On DVD, November 2001) This movie is famous in SF circles for representing everything that’s wrong with Hollywood Science-Fiction, most notably the tendency to use SF visuals and gadgets to tell a story that isn’t specifically SF. In this case, the charges have merit, as Outland was originally pitched to studios as “High Noon in outer space”. It sure feels every bit like a western, as a rogue sheriff (Sean Connery) has to fight corruption in his company town… er… mining station. Stupid science errors abound, from exploding bodies in vacuum to wonky “artificial gravity” babble. But guess what? It works well as an adventure film and it work pretty darn well as a futuristic thriller. It’s not a classic, but it deserves to be remembered twenty years later. The set design by itself is worth a look, embodying a full “Space 1999”/Alien techno-industrial slate-gray feel. It’s all good fun.

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