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Well, guess you have to be Russian to understand it.
This is probably the finest example of soviet sci-fi movie-making. Great cast, great story and one-of-the-kind atmosphere, brought mostly by the efforts of the director.
The only reason I can find for all the negative reviews here is the simple fact of culture differences. In the West, US of A in particular with the exception of maybe Star Trek and 2001 all sci-fi movies fall into block-buster category, whereas in Soviet Union and perhaps even now in modern Russia sc-fi genre tries to be more on philosophical side (original Solaris for example). Result - nearly total unacceptance of such films by the western audience. Yes this movie does have some corny moments and looks childish, but, overall, the issues it deals with much more serious than today's space-action flicks.
And on the lighter note. Being myself a huge MST3K fan, I don't think it did the movie justice. Of course they riffed awfully dubbed Sandy Frank import, but still...
If you really want to check out this movie - get the DVD re-release with remastered 5.1 soundtrack and clean picture.
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