In 1987, Captain William "Buck" Rogers pilots his space shuttle Ranger 3 on a mission but a meteor storm freezes him into an orbit that returns him to Earth - 500 years later. In 2491, his shuttle is found and captured by the Draconian flagship, under the command of Princess Ardala and her second-in-command Kane. Reviving him, they return him to Earth after secretly planting a homing beacon aboard his shuttle to track a path through Earth's defense barrier. Buck is under arrest and learns that Earth has been rebuilt over the centuries in his absence following a nuclear holocaust. Buck Rogers must adjust to the 25th century, and convince the Terrans that the Draconians are secretly planning to conquer Earth. Written by
David Thiel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Why there are two different Tigermen in the original film? According to costume designer Jean-Pierre Dorleac, it's because the fight scene between Tigerman and Buck was added later, after the original production had already wrapped. When they tried to call the actor who had played Tigerman earlier in the film back (he had been "discovered" for the role on the Universal Studios back lot tour), they could not find him! So they had to replace him with a lookalike (frankly, who did not). See more »
While Colonel Wilma Deering is saving Buck Rogers from the Draconian flagship, the left side of her flight helmet reads "Cool Deering" in one shot and is blank in all the rest. See more »
[voiceover during narration]
In the year 1987, at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, NASA launched the last of America's deep space probes. The payload, perched on the nose cone of the massive rocket, was a one-man exploration vessel - Ranger 3. Aboard this compact starship, a lone astronaut - Captain William "Buck" Rogers - was to experience cosmic forces beyond all comprehension. An awesome brush with death: in the blink of an eye, his life support systems were frozen by ...
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Erin Gray and Pamela Hensley appear as "dream girls" along side their names in the original (theatrical) credits. See more »
If that phrase puts you in the mind of Gil Gerard, Erin Gray and lots of "Star Wars"-derived FX, you already know where a movie like "Buck Rogers" is coming from.
If not, then let me enlighten you.
Most everyone familiar with sci-fi know Buck's story (frozen astronaut from 20th century is revived in the 25th century, must learn to re-adapt). This was old news as far back as the '40s.
But in the '70s...well.... Let's just say that it looks new. For the '70s.
Gil is game as Buck, shooting laser guns and cracking wise and making a good space-age hero. And Gray's Wilma Deering is both stern and soft as the Earth's military leader. Felix Silla makes a good impression as Twiki (with a more-than-equal assist from Mel Blanc's voice wizardry) and as Princess Ardala, Hensley gives what must be the most sensual performance from an alien up to that point in time.
But the special effects are clearly from the '70s, as is the music (disco music in the 25th century? Someone must have unearthed Studio 54.) and the set design: its glittery, shiny look may have been futuristic then, but now it just looks more '70s than anything else.
Yes, it's a dated future.
But is it entertaining?
Pretty much. No one went into this thinking they were making "2001", but are spots here and there where it looks like everyone was having a good time with the material. Especially Gil, who just plain has fun with his role as the 25th century's loosest guy.
Too bad they cut out Wiseman's work as King Draco. Some of his best stuff since "Dr. No".
Six stars. Here's to futures past.
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