4.8/10
113
4 user 2 critic

Warp Speed (1981)

| Sci-Fi | TV Movie
A ship is found adrift in space with no trace of its crew, or any signs of life at all. A psychic is brought into to try to "join" her mind with the memories lingering in the spacecraft so ... See full summary »

Director:

Allan Sandler

Writers:

Peter Dawson (screenplay), Don Clark (concept)
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Cast

Cast overview:
David Chandler David Chandler
Camille Mitchell ... Dr. Janet Trask
Adam West ... Captain Lofton
Joanne Nail
Barry Gordon ... David Ingalls
Akosua Busia
Gela Nash Gela Nash ... (as Gela Jacobson)
John Stinson John Stinson
Jerry Prell Jerry Prell
David Wiley David Wiley
Cameron Mitchell Jr. Cameron Mitchell Jr. ... Jack Quantell (as Channing Mitchell)
Stan Wojno Stan Wojno
Reggie Dunn Reggie Dunn ... (as Reginald Dunn)
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Storyline

A ship is found adrift in space with no trace of its crew, or any signs of life at all. A psychic is brought into to try to "join" her mind with the memories lingering in the spacecraft so she can find out what happened to the crew and where they are now. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Genres:

Sci-Fi

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Trivia

The spaceship and the corridors are the same ones from the production companies film 'Escape From DS-3' See more »

User Reviews

 
Nice idea, badly plotted
25 March 2018 | by DPMaySee all my reviews

Another low-budget sci-fi feature from the Sandler-Emenegger stable. This one involves a Marie Celeste type of situation: a spaceship sent out on a five-year mission to Saturn to conduct research has unexpectedly returned early, damaged and with its crew mysteriously vanished. In a final bid to uncover the truth, the authorities have brought in a psychic, Dr Janet Trask, to go aboard the abandoned vessel and attempt to reconstruct the events using her extraordinary sensory powers.

Camille Mitchell plays Dr Trask, supposedly the lead character although in fact she ends up having very little to do other than wander hesitantly through empty corridors or keep her distance as an unseen observer as exchanges between members of the ship's crew play out.

The ill-fated crew themselves are the expected mixed bunch, headed by a stoic Adam West as the experienced commander whose determination for the mission to succeed is fuelled more by his own career ambitions than a true sense of duty. His team are an even mix of young men and women, fairly one-dimensional characters and it is disappointing that, with one or two exceptions, their backgrounds and the precise nature of their roles on the ship are barely explored. However, a nice touch is the explanation that each had to come through a lengthy and gruelling selection process in order to qualify for the mission, meaning that they are, by nature, all extremely competitive individuals who are now confined together for a projected five years with no more outlet for this urge.

In fact it would seem that they have very little outlets for anything, given how sparse the spaceship's interior appears. The feeble budget means that the bridge, the corridors, the gymnasium and each member's private quarters are almost barren, and the recreation room where much of the action is centred has the most basic table and chairs and, would you believe, a couple of Space Invaders machines! There are a couple of those 1970s-style tall computer banks in evidence, but they look very static with the big spools of tape not spinning. The command centre where Trask is dispatched from looks a much more complex set-up yet is less crucial to the plot, so perhaps an example of the limited budget not being used as sensibly as it might have been. Model work is basic but competent. There's one optical effect and it fails because it involves a laser weapon being fired at an individual's head but they collapse clutching their stomach.

I found the film very disjointed early on. It very strangely opens with a brief scene of Dr Trask waking up in her bedroom before cutting to other events, and this gives a false impression that everything thereafter is some kind of dream or flashback, which it isn't (at least I don't think it is). Then, after some predictable preamble in which a hardened authority figure insists that bringing in a psychic will be a waste of time and money, Trask gets going on her mission and there's a lot of switching between her present and the past events on the ship which she is sensing. The continual chopping about doesn't help the narrative flow at all. Trask picks up some events out of sequence, which I assume was a device employed to try and intrigue the viewer as to how these events came about, but instead this idea is somewhat disorientating. Confusion is increased further by the presentation of images resulting from crew members using some kind of special recreational device which lets them escape into their fantasies, as it's not at all clear what this device is at first. And when it does become clear, you assume that this piece of apparatus will have some bearing on the subsequent plot, but then it doesn't.

Thankfully, the second half of the film follows a more linear form of storytelling, without the unnecessary interruptions from Trask or her colleagues, and instead focusses on the fate of the lost crew. As events conspire against them and they become embroiled in a battle for survival, the film becomes a more compulsive watch despite some moments where credibility is stretched. The ending has a strange twist, and never quite satisfactorily explains exactly what happened to the final crewmember, but sometimes a little ambiguity is not a bad thing if the viewer is given sufficient data to make some educated guesses as to the final outcome.

The musical soundtrack is weak, the acting and dialogue passable without ever excelling, and the direction similarly fails to fully exploit the moments of drama. Without wanting to give too much of the plot away, an example comes in a scene where the crew have to draw lots to decide which of them will sacrifice themselves to save the others. Quite recently I was re-watching the 1980 TV mini-series Shogun which, coincidentally, featured a very similar scene in its first episode. Whereas Shogun managed to convey all the fear and tension of such a situation, Warp Speed completely fails in comparison, and that's the problem really - whatever this film manages to achieve in its best moments, you've still seen it done much better somewhere else.

The film's best attribute, once it gets going, is its story, so that will serve as some reward for those viewers patient enough to get through the confusing first half-hour. In better hands, this might have been a really good film. As it stands, it's not poor, but it's certainly no more than average.


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Country:

USA

Language:

English

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Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

4:3
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