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Obitaemyy ostrov
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Reviews & Ratings for
Dark Planet More at IMDbPro »Obitaemyy ostrov (original title)

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70 out of 96 people found the following review useful:

not bad, actually

Author: donche_ru from Russian Federation
13 January 2009

Can't understand all this negative hysteria. Most of which is actually about nothing ("crap! oh, such a crap! totally crap!" often mentioning that Bondarchuk is a bad director). Well, I can partly understand those who admired the original book (which is really worth reading) as they may have imagined everything in different manner (this is particularly true for sci-fi adaptations). But very often I read comments of people who seemed to be negatively oriented even before they really watched the film.

The movie is not piece of art. It really takes a lot from classic sci-fi movies (from costumes designs to city views). And directing sometimes is confusing. But the film has one strong point - the plot, original story that authors reflected rather well. Special effects are good (they were performed by American specialists), acting is not bad (dramatic acting usually is not required in sci-fi action movies). In essence, the movie is good and worth seeing. Don't take negative comments for granted.

BTW as far as I know Boris Strugaztsky (the one of two brothers who is still alive) liked the adaptation.

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54 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

Waiting for film two

Author: graygeneral from Russian Federation
5 January 2009

This attempt at bringing a Strugatski brothers novel to the modern Russian screen is without a doubt a success.

A little about the plot: young explorer Maksim Kammerer crash lands on Sarakhsh, a world enveloped by nebula gasses where people have never seen the stars. The Unknown Fathers, a group of powerful oligarchs, brainwash the population to hate other nations. Kammerer, aloof in his superiority, sets out to free the people of Sarahksh of oppression and paranoia.

I wont ramble on - suffice to say that Bondarchuk has done well, considering the sheer scale of the novel. Vasiliy Stepanov (as Maksim Kammerer) is sexy, cool and a blond head taller than his alien companions (a fine nod to the novel and a detail I did not expect). He was also most excellent in the action scenes.

Bondarchuk shines in his portrayal of Umnik (literally the Clever One). I especially enjoyed the scenes of him writhing in agony in the bath. A great performance. I feel compelled, after reading some of the other comments, to say that the novel, like this movie, is often comical...

Direction-wise there are some minor continuity errors and a few places where the pace slows unexpectedly, but the film sticks quite closely to the novel and this may not have been avoidable.

Compared Konstantin Lopushansky's 2006 adaptation of Gadkie Lebedi (highly recommended to scifi fans, this brooding picture seems to have slipped the under the radar), the film is of course rather crude and soulless - but that would be like comparing a novel by Banks to one by Lem.

I recommend it to everyone and will be waiting for film two (the adaptation can only be truly judged then) and a directors cut of the two together in a nice Hollywood package.

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49 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

Vivid and with some sparks of intelligence.

Author: armands_skutelis from Latvia
4 January 2009

Bondarchuk's last motion picture "The Inhabited Island" is very colorful and vivid piece of film. Visual material is stunning, top notch. Characters and environment are interesting and story too, for me as a die hard sci-fi fan seemed great. Yes, the main character is blond... So what? He comes from the Earth that lives in the golden age, having defeated all the illnesses and wars. People there are beautiful and they are smiling as it can be seen in the movie. On the contrary, on Saraksh people do not understand why he is smiling because there they are stricken with diseases and constant wars, radiation levels etc. Film suffers a bit from cheesiness in the end, some already seen things in other movies but it still has some good qualities. The scenes with Guards and their song are stunning.

Great visuals, great environment but still it lacks top notch acting and some things have already been seen.

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27 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Completely wrong approach to Strugatsky novel

Author: a a from Canada
23 May 2009

The original book is a classic in Russia, and contains enough material (and in high enough quality) to create a Start Wars-like series of films. What was done instead was extremely fast-paced bullet-point-like re-telling of the classic story. No suspense, no tension that was present at all stages in the book.

The screenplay sticks to the original dialogue almost verbatim. A serious mistake in my view: the director seems to be afraid of the book fans, and doesn't dare to touch anything in the original. But the original dialogue was backed by a lot of description of internal thinking of the heroes - which cannot be shown on the screen. The result - the storyline is flat and uninteresting, instead of the intriguing and fascinating story in the book.

The actors' play is a total fiasco - except, maybe Strannik ("Strider") - but his role is relatively simple. Everybody else looks like they're reading from a phone book - which probably has to do with the fact that the dialogues were left as-is, see above.

I do appreciate the effort to create an "exoplanet" look of everyday things (cars, glasses, forks, plates, food, clothes etc). The things created would be unusable, but had the desired unusual look.

Overall, disappointing, and leaves a taste of a missed opportunity.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Complex Story with a Messy Screenplay Lost in Translation

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
27 October 2012

In 2157, people lives in peace and progress on Earth, respecting ecology and space travels are very common. The pilot Maksim Kammerer (Vasiliy Stepanov) is hit by an asteroid and he crashes his spacecraft in the unknown planet Saraksh. Maksim gets stranded in the planet and is captured by a local and arrested. Maksim finds a planet in the stage of Earth in the 20th century, with war, social problems and destroyed ecology. He is sent to the capital escorted by Corporal Gai Gaal (Pyotr Fyodorov), but they are attacked and he escapes. Maksim protects the waiter Rada Gaal (Yuliya Snigir) against a stalker and he learns that she is Gai's sister. Then Gai recommends Maksim to his Captain Chachu (Mikhail Evlanov) and the earthling joins the guard. However Maksim discover that this repressed society is ruled by an oligarchy called Unknown Fathers. Further there are anti-ballistic defense towers that the locals believe that are for their protection that are actually broadcast towers that are used to control the minds of those that are susceptible to the broadcast that are called degenerates. Maksim leaves the guard and joins the degenerates to destroy the towers. However, he is captures with Rada and Gai. Now he is plotting with other prisoners how to destroy the central transmission to the towers and leave the people have free will.

"Obitaemyy Ostrov", a.k.a. "Prisoners of Power", is a complex story with a messy screenplay and absolutely lost in translation. I have just watched this movie on DVD twice, the first time spoken in Russian with Portuguese subtitles; then I saw it again dubbed in Portuguese with Portuguese subtitles. Surprisingly the dialogs in Portuguese and the subtitles in Portuguese are different. Based on this reality, my conclusion is that the Brazilian viewer misses many points in the translation. It is very difficult to follow and understand the society in planet Sarakash for those like me that have never read the sci-fi novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. There is no explanation, for example, for the curse word "Massaraksh". My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Prisioneiros do Poder" ("Prisioners of the Power")

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18 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Very nice experience

Author: SchwarzeMilch from Austria
19 April 2009

There are many beautiful layers in this movie. But what really fascinated me, was the figure of Maxim. This unification of messiah-like and yet very human and gentle features, this melting together of a hot-shot and yet modest, sensitive and yet strong, boy-like and yet wise person was really adorable to experience. The first scene really made me doubt if I would like this person, but in the end I was completely on his side.

The story follows an interesting plot and has some nice twists, the world is believable although it shines through as an allegory. I was more than pleased with it.

Some acting could have been better, yes. The directing has its flaws, yes. But it really didn't bother me too much. This movie was a very positive surprise for me, and I can't wait to see Maxim in action again. Well done!

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not a Bad Strugatzky Adaptation

Author: gl03 (gl03) from Berlin
3 January 2014

First things first: Make sure to see this in the 227min original (two-part) version. The international (one-part) release is a hack job with many crucial scenes missing, and a new cartoon title sequence that doesn't quite fit the mood.

The movie's greatest asset is certainly the Strugatzky brothers' nuanced story about a planet corrupt to the bone and the hero's moral imperative to intervene. The story is largely treated with respect, and while I can relate to some of the criticism aimed at the movie - there are some continuity issues, the casting might not suit everyone's taste, as won't the Matrix-style kung fu - this is a well-realised sci-fi flick that's worth watching for the strength of its story alone.

Yes, Tarkovsky would have made this a different movie, and I'm surely going to watch Aleksey German's 'Hard To Be A God', but I for one didn't mind this movie's bubblegum aesthetics while pondering existential moral dilemmas.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Too packed

Author: info-11400 from Germany
14 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Phew, what to say about this movie. There is simply too much to discuss. This is quite the impression you will get watching this film. It rushes from theme to theme, literally rushes! Let's start at the very base, a Strugatsky novel. I read a few Strugatsky stories, most notably of course "Roadside picnic". "Obitaemyy ostrov" however is not "stalker", no 10 out of 10 that is.

The brothers Strugatsky were Soviet writers, so some of their stories dealt with the soviet ideal human. In "Obitaemyy ostrov" earth has made it, and no doubt, all humanity transformed into perfect (probably communist) beings. That means every human being utilizes all of his/her potential: Mentally, physically and ethically. The latter is of most importance. A perfect communist is of almost angelic moral integrity. Whatever powers he will possess or obtain, he will not use these in any selfish or abusive way.

That said, our "hero" is a most beautiful, well build "Übermensch" (astonishing blond an blue eyed) from earth, with perfect integrity and morality. He is young, and unfortunately crashes on a strange planet. His spacecraft explodes, he is lost. As he is an "Übermensch", he is not desperate.

In fact he is imprisoned by a totalitarian state, escapes by accident, falls in love, and the story really gets complicated from then on. Right now there are true spoilers to come. So stop reading, if you want to watch the movie unbiased.

The unknown fathers reign over a city, that is (of course) a mixture of Metropolis and Blade Runner, and a little design of Dune. As the story evolves you will learn that almost everyone is controlled be rays send out by so called defense towers. These rays work at a subconscious level. Our hero is immune, as is a group of people, fought by the state as terrorists. Well the (super-)earthling becomes (in order of appearance) a prisoner, guard elite soldier, free individual and lover, terrorist, convict, runaway convict, terrorist leader, member of the establishment, revolutionary and finally earthling again. The hero is somewhat naive. He tries all these positions like a youngster without any prejudices.

In the end, he knows about the foundation of the political system. The political elite of the state resembles a bit Stalin's system. The state's attorney is in trouble. That means he is about to be murdered. He tries to convince our hero to destroy the central of the ray-emitting towers and take over the power after wards. With the help of some co-convicts the hero succeeds, but destroys the central of power instead.

One of the very nice and intelligent moments of the movie is the instance, where the friends of the hero take over power. And one really feels the temptation of power. Almost brilliant.

One high ranking member of the government turns out to be human (thus superhuman) as well. He is furious about the actions of our young hero. The so called roamer tries to change the system since 20 years. But he tries to avoid unnecessary losses or victims. He is the man for the slow change, no revolution. The young hero is the revolutionary, simply incapable of bearing the injustice. While exchanging some intellectual backgrounds the roamer and the hero beat hell out of each other. Really strange (for super-humans) I think. And naturally, the young rebel insists on a quick change.

The movie is optically splendid, albeit the cgi is about 10 years behind. They have enough budget to make things look convincing most of the time. Designwise they steal from a lot of movies.

The film was more entertaining than I expected. But it has too much to tell to be really great. A lot of interesting things just rush by. Well, and the same might be true about this comment.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Best Russian sci fi in the last 10 years

Author: marina_simakova
23 May 2015

This Strugatsky adaptation is in my opinion is made very close to the book and showing very well the complexity of the plot and the ideas of Strugatsky. Bravo for the film director for being brave enough to do it so detailed. To better understand the movie is it the best to read the book or at least the short description of the plot. The costumes and special effects are quite qualitative and definitely can stand to the Hollywood standard. I found the movie being highly underrated and extremely enjoyable. In my opinion it deserves to be added to the classics of sci fi, even through Massaraksh universe visually reminds Blade runner universe. Inhibited island plot, as generally Strugatsky novels is complex and maybe that is the reason why the movie was not valued and understood properly. My recommendation - to watch if you like serious science fiction and want to savor a great visual spectacle. Strugatsky in my opinion is the best there is of science fiction, or one of the best and being so serious about the books I would be very critical towards bad adaptation. But this one is a real success!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An excellent film that is underrated

Author: Sam DeRenzis from United States
10 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A Russian film based on the novel Prisoners of Power by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. After reading the English translation one thing is clear the film follows the book closely but not exactly.

Overall I think this is one of the best films I've seen in my life. The cinematography is beautiful and the characters are very well written. Anyone interested in seeing it should love Sci-Fi because this film relies heavily on your ability to imagine a world where human beings are completely free and have begun a new age..

Maxim Kammerer is the main character during the story, we get to see him as a mostly inexperienced youth. In the book he's in his early 20's but here he appears older which probably means they just couldn't find someone to fill the part who was as good an actor as Vasiliy Stepanov. As time goes on the man evolves and gains better judgement in dealing with his situation.

Its very clear the film was adapted from the book because in the very beginning when he runs into the asteroid/meteors it begins diverging from the novel. Where-as the novel has him being shot down from the surface.

Maxim is not an amateur space explorer but in fact is part of something called the Independent Reconnaissance Unit or IRU. He can find no direction in his life for studying anything specific so joins up around age 20 and begins charting planets from the surface/orbit. In the book its made clear this is not his first mission as his parents want him to do something else and generally everyone already knows what he does.

Another divergence from the book is with the way he crashes, the film has meteors/asteroids that he runs into but we know that's unlikely because his ship would certainly have given warning since because even the most simple of radars can track a huge rock! The reason it's done this way is the backstory would've probably required around 30 mins to establish and they wanted to get right into the meat of the book instead. So how does he crash then? The IRU sent him to this planet to map it and check for life and while on approach he is shot down by weapons fire. Later on in the story this happens again to him in the plane which is when he realizes what happened to him originally.

The important part is the film does succeed in capturing ones interest even with all the changes, especially the end fight between Maxim and Strannik which never really happened in the book! It was EPIC in the film but the book has them driving off in the car together after Maxim has blown the main tower center up. Then he calmly tells Maxim he's from Earth too.

The book is great, the film is great. This is just like Black Lightening in that few know of it's existence outside Russia.

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