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I first watched Saturn 3 with my father when I was about 12 years old and I remembered liking it and being creeped out by it as a kid. So I revisited the film again last night. Even though it has been over 15 years since I first saw this film, I still really enjoyed it. I was very surprised to see so many negative comments here on IMDb. All in all, the film is a little dated, but it still contains some very striking visuals and original ideas. The sets used for this film were extremely well detailed and thought out, as were the costumes and props. "Hector" is perhaps one of the coolest looking cyborg/robot characters ever conceived. The scene where he is first "booted up" and filled with "cyber-blood" is just vivid and stunning. After watching this film, it was also *quite* obvious that this movie influenced some of the more modern science fiction masterpieces like Robocop, the (1st) Matrix and James Cameron's Aliens. Several of the reviews harshly criticized the acting and the story, but I however found no problems in this department. Nowadays we seldom see good films with a small cast and a simple story. Not every movie has to be as advanced and as complex as films like Minority Report. And I am sorry, but Mark Hamill and Keanu Reeves can't hold a candle to Kirk Douglas and Harvey Keitel when it comes to acting. I think people are trying to compare this film to all the super budget modern sci-fi movies. Or perhaps this movie is regarded as "crap" by many because they think Star Wars is the end all, be all sci-fi movie of all time, which in my opinion, Star Wars is MUCH more cheesy and way too light-hearted to take seriously. If you like serious, dark sci-fi flicks, be sure to check this one out. Don't listen to all those Star Wars nerds who crap on this film. Judge it for yourself. 7/10
In the future, Earth is overcrowded and the population relies on
distant bases to be fed. In the Saturn 3 station, Major Adam (Kirk
Douglas) and the scientist Alex (Farrah Fawcett), who is also his lover
and has never been on Earth, have been researching hydroponics for
three years in the base alone with their dog Sally.
Meanwhile, the psychotic Captain Benson (Harvey Keitel) fails the mental test required to travel to Saturn 3 and kills his replacement, Captain James, taking his place in the mission of assembling and programming the Demi-God series robot Hector to replace one of the scientists in Saturn 3.
On the arrival, the mentally disturbed Captain Benson becomes sexually obsessed for Alex. Then he uses an interface to link his brain to program Hector, but incapable to control his emotions, he transfers his homicidal tendency and insanity to Hector. Now Major Adam and Alex are trapped in the station with a dangerous psychopath robot.
"Saturn 3" is an underrated sci-fi cult from the 80's with a dark story that has not aged. The plot is very simple but creepy and the cast is very well selected: Kirk Douglas very mature but still handsome, convincing that Major Adam is capable to seduce Alex. The underrated actress Farrah Fawcett in the top of her beauty and showing parts of her body, seducing not only the psychopath Captain Benson but ( I believe) most of the male viewers. And Harvey Keitel is perfect as a mentally unstable man with sex drive on Alex. The non-commercial conclusion is also excellent and perfect for the story. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Missão Saturno 3" ("Mission Saturn 3")
There's no point whining about what 'Saturn 3' COULD have been with a script by Martin Amis, direction by Stanley Donen ('Bedazzled'), and the star power of Kirk Douglas and Harvey Keitel. It is what it is, and that is, despite the impressive production values, basically a throw back to a fifties b-grade monster movie. Hector is still one of the scariest movie robots of all time, even if the idea of a sex-crazed machine is a trifle ludicrous and reminiscent of all those horny BEMs on pulp magazine covers and silly flicks like 'The Brain From Planet Arous'. Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas ('Spartacus') must have been in his early 60s when this was made but still exudes charisma and virility. 1970s sex symbol Farrah Fawcett ('Logan's Run') is less convincing as his love interest and is, let's face it, little more than eye candy. Keitel must have been wondering just how he ended up in this silliness so soon after his excellent work in 'Blue Collar' and 'Fingers', but he is creepy enough, though apparently dubbed. I also got a kick out of the very brief cameo by Ed Bishop, star of 1970s cult classic SF series 'UFO'. All in all, an unambitious but generally effective thriller, which has a few dull spots but enough scares to make it some cheesy fun. Just don't expect too much and you will enjoy it all the more.
Right. Saturn 3 is one of those films that always seems to divide reviewers into the two old and trustworthy camps: "what a great picture" and "who the heck let this pile of manure be made?" And then, it has the ability to have a solid middle ground; the "nyah...not bad..." crowd. I have to say that I fall into this latter group. I first saw Saturn 3 when I was a teenager and was gripped by it. I remember thinking how cool Hector looked and the fact that he was also downright creepy. In the years before seeing The Terminator Hector, for me, was the archetypal maniac machine that will stop at nothing to kill you in a (probably) gruesome way. Okay, the film's saving graces: the overall design of the sets and costumes. Ignoring the rather bleak look of the corridors, the Saturn 3 station has that feeling of being futuristic but also familiar in a Holiday Inn-sort of way, and the launching area at the film's beginning, with that great big flaming hole image effectively acting as a rather cool backdrop. Benson's (and also James') space suits are very nicely done. They give off the distinct air of practicality, like a hyper-modern air force pressure suit, and also a sense of impersonality about them which becomes menacing with the addition of the dark face plated helmets. Adam and Alex's work-out gear, however, is very dated and it's also quite excruciating to watch their exercise routine. The ships aren't Star Wars Star Destroyers, but then they're not meant to be. The way I look at it, they were designed to look slightly other worldly and also practical. Benson's pod that he flies to Saturn 3 looks entirely functional and although it appears rather clunky and distinctly un-aerodynamic, it's worth remembering that in space there isn't any wind resistance so sleek lines aren't necessary. Unfortunately, because this was a full-sized prop for the actors to interact with the other ships do look like the models they are. Hector is a piece of design excellence. For a start, the actual costume is made from metal, instantly rendering the appearance of a real robot. The actual laboured gait and measured way of moving employed by the actor playing Hector (probably due to the considerable weight of the suit) is instrumental in convincing the viewer of his cybernetic credentials. What helps is that we see Hector being constructed and that can block out any ideas of the "man in a suit" mold, particularly in regards to the insertion of the brain tissue into (effectively) the torso of the costume. Finally, Harvey Keitel. His performance in this film is derided by many as being too over the top and hammy but I think that he actually saw the script for what it really was - eighty-odd minutes of comic-book fun. He had a ball with the Benson character and it's quite obvious that he knew he wasn't asked to do Shakespeare and play it straight. Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett are a let down to be sure. It's evident that Kirk's entering his dotage and the idea of him being an action hero and hot stud when he's the same age as most of the audience's grandfathers is frankly ludicrous. And showing your sagging butt, Kirk? Should've kept those training suit bottoms on. Farrah does play Alex well when she's there to look good, but any semblance of the idea that she's a research scientist just doesn't compute. The film in itself is a bit of a hit and miss affair. It aims to be a sophisticated sci-fi thriller like Alien but the casting of Douglas and Fawcett certainly taint any idea of it being classed as a thriller. The music (what there is of it) is original, the direction so-so and the overall concept is there, but it fails to it the target spot on. An enjoyable piece of hokum to pass the time would be a fair review.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 1980, Saturn 3 was released. Since then it's been mocked, laughed
at, even ripped-off by so-called "Classic" (Some actually deserved it,
though.). Although it's rough on the edges, and suffers from some
editing problems, effects, and a low budget, Saturn 3 is light-years
better than any of the sci-fi crap that's churned out today (Not
counting Revenge Of The Sith, which was good.), along with another
underrated sci-fi cult hit Galaxy Of Terror. Unlike Galaxy, Saturn 3
was directed by producer (And best known for Singing In The Rain)
Stanley Donen, who took over from original director (And special
effects/set designer specialist) John Barry. His directing is fine, but
along with him are Kirk Douglas (Who's often criticized for being too
old to be stripped down in wearing nothing in some parts of the film,
but this was made before he ACTUALLY became a decrepit, feeble old man,
no offense Kirk.), Harvey Keitel (Who was unfairly dubbed by a
stereotypical British dude i'm not familiar with), and Farrah Fawcet
(Who's the weakest link of this film).
It opens with Keitel (Dressed in a awesome space suit) taking the job to take Hector (The key robot of the film.) to Saturn 3, a sanctionary of sorts to keep Earth plenished with food. Of course, he kills the real men meant for the job, and goes in the spaceship unnoticed. The opening is full of surreal, trippy, but awesome details, and gives us viewers some view of possible space life in the future. Keitel (Who's character is called Benson, and is referred as the Captain) arrives at Saturn 3, and is greeted by Adam & Alex (Douglas & Fawcet, which their characters' names are a nod to Adam & Eve.). Alex says Benson is weird, and Adam outright distrusts him. Alex has also never been to Earth. We then see Benson construct Hector, a big robot with the tinniest head in the world. He has a synthetic brain, and is programmed by taking information from Benson via a head plug (A concept stolen by The Matrix.) Benson gains a weird obsession towards Alex, said obsession is transferred to Hector, which leads to Hector going mad, killing a dog, then Benson later on. Then, it leads Adam to sacrifice his life to save Alex.
Saturn 3 contains some great designs, an interesting concept, a well-done execution, and some flaws. The flaws come from different places, mainly the casting of Fawcet. Some say this was vehicle for her showing off her skin, but due to the film's long history (Dating back to the early 70s, before Star Wars), it ain't. She makes her character a tad annoying, and seems to have not much to do except being fluff. She adds nothing, only causing a distraction from the real stars of the film, Keitel, Douglas, Hector, and the set design. Douglas & Keitel (Despite the awful decision to dub Keitel) are excellent, Hector is a creation of mystery to behold, the sets are great, and the score (Although brief) is cool and unforgettable. The effects work well, except for some really awful ones (Notably the one scene where Hector extends his arms after Adam tosses a crate at him, the riding through the rocks scenes, and, ugh, that one effect where Hector looks like a automated reject from Disneyworld's Epcot Center after getting pushed into the trap Adam and Alex made, although he was smart enough to avoid it first.). Despite these flaws, Saturn 3 is a great, forgotten sci-fi flick that needs to be seen and treated better, especially in the days of dreadful crap like "You Got Served", "Hustle & Flow", "Waist Deep", "Stargate The Series", "The Matrix Revolutions", and "Cars" (Which I haven't seen, nor I want to see it, due to my fear that it will be inferior to the CGI Animated masterpiece "The Incredibles"). See it, respect the effects (Which are still better than CGI), and don't laugh, you'll understand me better. If you see, or seen it, then go to www.PetitionOnline.Com/Saturn3/petition.html to support my petition to release a special edition, anamorphic widescreen, Uncut, remastered DVD. If you sign it, you will be thanked in the future. Trust me.
I saw this recently, late one Friday night on BBC2. It reminded me, though it isn't a horror film, of all the times I used to stay up in the past to watch old horror films, loving the fact that although few of them were spectacular, it was just fun to be able to see weird old b movies from the days when b grade genre pictures were often pretty decent. Saturn 3 has a small cast, comprising mainly Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett as his wife, and Harvey Keitel as the sinister Captain James, who intrudes upon their cosy existence manufacturing food on Saturn 3. Farrah Fawcett looks nice and has a blandly appealing presence but isn't that much of an actress. Kirk Douglas brings a rugged, stoical gravitas to his role and is quite watchable, though his portrayal seems a bit stiff for the role. Its hard to judge Harvey Keitels performance since he was dubbed over. This is unfrotunate because it gives his human character a robotic feel. The film is fast paced, thrilling and wonderfully designed, with excellent special effects, especially Hector the robot. Hector is a great creation and has lots to do during the film, once it gets going. Also, as the film goes on, it seems to definitely have influenced the film Virus, with Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as other later science fiction films Though the characterisation seems a little weak the actors put their all into it and since the film becomes focused on the Hector and technological villainry the lightly drawn characters don't hurt too much. The screenplay runs swiftly and has sufficient vigor to paper over any cracks. Oddly, the screenplay is by acclaimed writer Martin Amis who penned great works such as Money or London Fields. Sadly the film has little of his sparkling language or savage wit but it does have a lot of excitement, some interesting themes and good dystopian details, especially in Keitel's characters attitudes. The final half hour or so is constantly tense and gripping, mounting to an inspired climax before a slightly weak final few moments. Sadly the film seems destined to mainly be seen in a truncated form instead of the 100 or so minute one mentioned on IMDb. The film definitely could have been more fleshed out, for there is the odd interesting point that is not expanded. However, the 85 or so minute cut is a such a tight, compelling ride that it is hard to criticise. With better acting, more characters or the 100 minute cut this could possibly have been really great. As it is I'd still definitely recommend it to science fiction or robot movie enthusiasts since its has some great ideas, effects that hold up well today and some good thrills. Worthwhile.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this in the theater on the day it was released in 1980. This was
a Grindhouse movie shown in little theatres, not in huge complexes. I
went to see it not expecting much
Not expecting, but got: This film had the coolest robot I had ever seen in my life. Back then I was not familiar with Harvey Keitel, I did not know that Roy Dotrice had overdubbed his voice, all I knew is this creepy guy, opens an airlock on a space station and lets his Captain fall through, shattering him into a million pieces of gore, and that was disturbing, and it was shown within the first 5 minutes of this film - And Keitel, who at the time was hidden by a black space helmet, giggling about killing this guy in that horrible way, what kind of film is this with a beginning like that.
Not the best Stanley Donen film, but Donen clearly had a talent for doing the best he could with very low budgets, it could have used a few more dollars in the effects budget. It is highly Likely that John Barry directed a lot of this, and his design handiwork is evident.
After seeing Space done so beautifully and economically by Ridley Scott in Aliens, this film for me was a return to my roots of Low Budget Science Fiction, which I grew up on, so I enjoyed the cheesy view of Saturn's Rings, I even loved the 2-D effect of the space station, and Donen's directing of the initial scene where you think is this going to be a musical in space? But there were some good effects despite the Apparent lack of dollars to make them really good. And I first saw this in the theater, and things always look better on that huge screen, until you see it on TV and it looks Cheap.
So now, 32 years after I sat in that theater and was creeped out by Harvey Keitel and his robot "Hector" - I found a fairly good transfer of that film online and got it - And I watched it last night, for the first time in 3 decades.
And I still liked it, the interactions between Kirk Douglass, Farah Fawcett and Harvey Keitel were subtle and the dialog was understandable although a "future slang" was being used, we can get the gist of the conversations... "No Taction Contact!" IE, "Do Not Touch!" - Kirk Douglas was far from being a decrepit old man in this film, he plays the lead role in his usual way, although toned down from his gritting teeth roles like Spartacus. In fact, this was the first film I had seen Douglas in where he was very subdued in manner but held his authority, when usually he acts with a lot more force behind his words and actions. I think this was probably the biggest Movie role for Farah , not counting several made for TV movies like "The Burning Bed".
The Saturn 3 set is convincing as a space habitat, except of course the gravity would be less than earth's, there is no mention of artificial gravity, so we have to take all that for granted in the film.
The Hector concept, was the first time I had seen in a movie, that a robot had to be programmed from a human brain, and if that brain has problems: "I'm not malfunctioning, You are" as Hector tells "Benson"- So this film makes clear that a guy who giggles over murdering his captain in cold blood, if this guy is the template for Hector's Programming, then watch out - The film made this concept very clear. This was also the first time in a movie where we see a socket at the base of a man's skull, this has been used in Science Fiction movies up to The Matrix.
The design of some of the space-ships came from earlier science fiction movies, and we can blame veteran effects man Wally Veevers for some of the opticals in this film... The three-winged craft that comes to check on Saturn 3 is very familiar- I like that this was done that way, it connected this film which was at the time, a modern science fiction film, to its predecessors from the late 50's and early 60's. Most of the spaceships look like they came from the covers of "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" or "Analog Science Fiction" or "Galaxy" or any number of those pulps where these stories came from...
And of course, the writer of this story was Martin Amis, the son of author Kingsley Amis, who wrote several science fiction stories with slants like used in this film.
So basically, this was a B Movie that got some attention because of the then use of Kirk Douglas and Farah Fawcett, it could have been a great film, but as it is, it is not horrible, the science is believable, the effects typical but not great, the resolution not perfect but satisfying. The story could have been fleshed out a bit more, but as it is, the robot Hector, I remembered that Robot, when I saw Terminator I thought of Hector, when I saw Aliens I thought of Hector, there were a lot of possibilities for that character, this was not just an "Evil Robot" but a robot that became evil because of the way it was "taught" - Much like people in that respect. And that cylinder that held "Hectors Brain" - was creepy, any brain that is 4 times the size of a human brain, well you just have to say "Why is that a BAD IDEA?"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The aging Major Adam (an able and robust performance by Kirk Douglas)
and his much younger distaff partner Alex (sweetly played with charming
naiveté by Farrah Fawcett) are stationed on a lone station located on
one of Saturn's moons where they are working on ways to grow food for
the starving masses back on Earth. Their idyllic existence gets ripped
asunder by the intrusive presence of the depraved and unhinged Captain
Benson (Harvey Keitel in fine menacing form) and his equally dangerous
robot helper Hector.
Director Stanley Donen offers a chilling vision of a cold, grim, and hedonistic future, relates the dark and compelling story at a steady pace, and generates some real nerve-wracking tension in the harrowing last third. The intelligent script by Martin Amis addresses such pertinent issues as overpopulation, depletion of precious resources, invasion of privacy, and the dehumanizing impact of advanced technology on mankind's soul in a thoughtful and provocative manner. Moreover, this film makes a valid point that technology is only as good or bad as the purpose it's put to use for. The lavish set design and snazzy special effects are pretty impressive (the towering Hector in particular comes across as genuinely imposing and frightening). The fact that Keitel's trademark New York accent was dubbed by Roy Dotrice with a more "continental" voice adds to the character of Benson's overall creepiness. Elmer Bernstein's spare pulsating score hits the moody spot. The glossy cinematography by Billy Williams provides a pleasing polished look. A neat and unjustly maligned movie.
Would-be foreboding sci-fi looks all shiny and new, like a futuristic department store. Three good actors (Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas and Harvey Keitel) come off looking like incompetent dummies in this derivative, cardboard cartoon. When Keitel arrives at the space station of lovers Douglas and Fawcett, he is carrying a strange metal container. Douglas offers to carry it for him and Keitel answers, "NOOOOOOOO!" in a hilariously chilly manner that makes even Richard Burton's overacting seem tame by comparison. Poor Kirk and Farrah even strip down for this one (so much for the classy reputation of vet director Stanley Donen). There is a neat scene where robotic Hector takes a splinter from Farrah's eye, but her reaction afterward (rubbing it like a child and sticking her bottom lip out) is embarrassing. This is one step beyond, all right. It's so far out it's brain-dead. *1/2 from ****
It's hard to imagine a more peculiar choice of director for this sci-fi
thriller than Stanley Donen. Donen made some great films in the 50s and
60s (Singin' In The Rain, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, Charade),
but here he's in disappointing form. Partly that may be due to the fact
that the project was originally to be directed by John Barry, but Donen
"inherited" the responsibility when Barry quit due to ill health.
However, Donen should not be made to shoulder all the blame. The script
by Martin Amis leaves the actors to contend with some bad lines and
situations. Elmer Bernstein contributes a forgettable music score which
is well below his usual standard. And even the actors - all of them
talented - seem indifferent to the project. Kirk Douglas, for example,
seems to have accepted the role simply to enjoy some saucy nude scenes
with sexy co-star Farrah Fawcett.
Essentially, the story is a three-handed thriller (or, four-handed, if you count Hector the droid). Saturn 3 is Titan, the third moon of Saturn (hence the name), and it is here that scientists Adam and Alex (Douglas and Fawcett) live in blissful isolation, developing food supplies for people on Earth. Adam and Alex not only work together - they sleep and shower together too, which is a pretty enviable arrangement for Adam (who is about 30 years older than his sexy assistant). Into this perfect space oasis comes psychopathic Benson (Harvey Keitel), another scientist who has recently murdered a shuttle captain. Benson has brought with him a droid named Hector, supposedly to speed up the workload. However, Hector turns out to be a particularly unstable droid, particularly when the randy robot develops a liking toward Alex. Eventually it becomes clear that neither Adam nor Benson can control the droid, and with Hector determined to kill anyone who stands in the way of himself and Alex, that becomes something of a problem.......
If Saturn 3 is a story of jealousy and desire, then it needs more than a sex-starved droid to generate credibility. If it is a sci-fi actioner, then it needs more action. If it was conceived as a sci-fi thriller then it most assuredly needs more thrills. The film emerges as a rather muddled and unappealing mess, with flashes of eroticism and very sporadic flashes of action. It marks a low point in Donen's directorial career, and is too forgettable to be remembered as a significant sci-fi work. Most of the folks associated with this one probably don't give it pride of place on their CVs.
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