Low-budget story of four astronauts in deep space, whose mission is to destroy unstable planets in star systems which are to be colonised. The late Commander Powell is stored in deep freeze, where he is still able to offer advice. As their mission nears completion, they must cope with a runaway alien which resembles a beach-ball, faulty computer systems, and a "smart bomb" who thinks it is God.Written by
Alexander Lum <email@example.com>
I saw this movie for the first time at the USA Film Festival. Held here in Big D every spring, the USAFF showcases films produced here in the USA. (No foreign films)
Each night they would show two new films, plus a retrospective film from the actor or director being honored that year. After the film, the film critic who selected the film would interview one or more of the people involved with the film's production.
Towards the end of the week, I arrived at the Bob Hope Theatre (on the SMU campus) to find a notice on the chalkboard: one of the films had cancelled out, and "Dark Star" a "sci-fi comedy" would be shown in its place.
Bringing science fiction and comedy together is a tricky business: usually either the SF content or the humor suffers. Or both.
I ended up being pleasantly surprised. The special effects were a little cheesy (Carpenter originally shot it as a film student, on a film students "budget"), but the characters were funny, and they got off some nice riffs.
Carpenter and O'Bannon (who also co-wrote the first "Alien" movie) produce a collection of odd characters on an extended mission. For the last 20 years they've been travelling the galaxies in search of "unstable planets" to destroy.
Unfortunately, the crew is falling apart. Boredom, apathy, mechanical malfunctions and a puckish alien mascot ensure that things only get worse and worse.
There's a clever parody of a scene from "2001" occurs when one of the bombs can't be released and has to be talked out of exploding.
And there's a reverse reference to one of O'Bannon's own script for "Alien" when the alien gets free and one of the crew has to track the thing down. (O'Bannon refers to this as "Alien" turned upside-down: instead of the alien chasing the crew, one of the crew chases the alien)
Lots of fun. Eight stars.
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