Dead Fire

Starring: Matt Frewer, Colin Cunningham, C. Thomas Howell, Monika Schnarre
Directed by:
Robert Lee

2 (Europe, Middle East & Japan only)
Format: PAL


Ever wondered what happened to C. Thomas Howell, the little boy in E.T.?

Not really? Well, I'm going to tell you in any case.

He ended up playing in movies like this 1997 movie made especially for the Sci-Fi Channel. Proof again that (a) if you weren't a famous actor to begin with, then starring in a Steven Spielberg movie won't be advantageous to your career at all (obvious really, considering that you'd probably be playing second fiddle to a special effects team) and (b) the Sci-Fi Channel will show anything. And I do mean anything, no matter how bad it is . . .

Anyway, George W. Bush obviously won the 2004 American elections because more disastrous environmental policy decisions have resulted in the Earth being uninhabitable by the year 2014. (A site visitor recently castigated me for making unwarranted anti-Republican remarks in my reviews. Another scolded me for using words such as "castigated", but Lord! I just can't help myself!)

By 2064 the space station U.S.S. Legacy is still orbiting the Earth while scientists onboard work on a scheme using solar flares to re-ionize the earth's atmosphere. Or something like that. The one scientist described the process as being similar to shaking a bottle of soda pop. Whatever.

Trouble ensues when the space station is taken over by a megalomaniacal madman named Durbin (played by Matt Frewer of Max Headroom and Jobe in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace fame) and his evil henchmen. Durbin is impatient with the whole process and wants to kick start it by detonating a nuclear reactor aboard the space station instead of hanging around waiting for the next solar flare to erupt.

Just how megalomaniacal is Durbin? He doesn't care that the planned nuclear reactor explosion will result in the deaths of the thousands of people held in deep freeze, er sorry, suspended animation; all of them intended to repopulate the Earth once it is made hospitable again.

Also we have the following piece of choice dialogue:

"Durbin, you're not God."
"Yes, I know I'm not God
. . . not yet."

However, before you can say "Die Hard in Outer Space", unbeknownst to the bad guys, also aboard the space station is disgraced hotshot security officer Cal Brody (Colin Cunningham), thought to be dead by the baddies.

Why the chief baddie of the movie's name sounds similar to that of a major port city on the Natal South East coast of South Africa (Durban) is only one of the film's many mysteries, plot holes, idiocies and inanities.

Towards the end of the movie the character played by Howell has bounced a ray off the Hubble telescope (!) and the U.S.S. Legacy using a billiards ball simulator. Great - except that a billiards game is played on the flat two-dimensional surface of a pool table whereas bouncing around rays in three-dimensional space like in this movie is a completely different thing altogether!

And so on. The problem with Dead Fire is that after kicking off with some gratuitous violence and female nudity in a hostage situation taken right out of Outland, Dead Fire is on auto pilot. Instead of trying anything more ambitious, Dead Fire is content with being Die Hard on the set of Aliens. Except think "Die Hard in Space" with some serious budget constraints, cheap looking sets, serious over-acting, clunkily bad dialogue and CGI effects below the level of an average Babylon 5 episode. Not even some more gratuitous violence and female nudity would have helped Dead Fire . . .

NOTE: Things I have learned from watching this movie: in 2064 we will still be using oversized walkie-talkies to communicate aboard gigantic space stations with artificial gravity. We will also be using MS-DOS command line computer operating systems (obviously).

THE DISC: This is the Region 2 South Africa-only disc distributed by Next Video, the same folks who gave us the 1993 post-apocalyptic bore fest Knights (starring Lance Henriksen and Kris Kristofferson). No matter how bad Knights was I forgave Next Video because they are the local distributors of the brilliant Donnie Darko. After all, the South African market is so small than anyone who brings out stuff that isn't brought out by our two local film distribution monopolies, er sorry, companies, is welcome, even if it is dross. However, Next Video is really pushing things here.

Once again the main menu consists of both a Play option and a chapter selection. No trailer, nothing. The movie is probably encoded from the video masters and while the image and sound is good it isn't as brilliant as the format can be. No serious complaints though, but is definitely a no frills disc.

WORTH IT? Are you kidding?



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