far as zero-budget genre film-making goes, Outerworld isn’t too bad.
That unfortunately doesn’t mean that it is any good though . . .
First released as Star Quest / Beyond the Rising Moon
back in 1987, this straight-to-DVD cheapie has now been reworked with
brand-new, computer-generated special effects. The new effects – mostly CG
space battles – frees up the action in ways unimaginable back in the late
‘Eighties, especially for this type of “let’s borrow Steve’s camcorder and
make our own sci-fi flick” effort.
While the special effects are much improved (but not
exactly great), the rest of the movie is still beyond redemption. The 1980s
hairstyles and fashions as well as the amateur acting are still awful. That
the screenplay is an anticlimactic clunker also doesn’t help. More
note-worthy micro-budget entries such as
Timecrimes, Dark Star and
Cube overcome their severe budgetary limitations
with their clever screenplays. The script for Outerworld is instead
an amalgamation of 1980s sci-fi clichés, most notably taken from
Pentan (Tracy Davis) is a Replicant, er sorry, synthetic
humanoid who does the bidding of an evil multinational corporation (is there
any other sort?). When Pentan becomes tired of killing for her corporate
employers, she rebels by stealing the location of a crash-landed alien
spaceship that will make whoever first claims it for salvage rich beyond
belief. Of course our evil corporate villains won’t take this sort of thing
lying down and are in hot pursuit of her and a cocky space pilot-for-hire
named Han Solo. OK, just kidding. His name isn’t really Han Solo.
The problem is that the alien spaceship is a mere
MacGuffin – something to set the plot in motion – and nothing more. When the
spaceship is finally tracked down on a deserted alien planet one expects
something, well, more. One keeps on expecting the movie to reveal the
secrets behind the alien makers of the ship or something, anything! And in
the hands of a more talented science fiction writer there would have been
something more. As it is the movie is merely an excuse for what is at best a
Serenity-lite adventure, but with bad acting
and rotten dialogue.
THE DISC: If you think Outerworld is no
good, then you should see the original version of the movie which is also
included on the disc as a bonus. A certain school of thinking maintains that
computer-generated effects have made movies dumber. That is not true. Some
of them were pretty dumb to begin with and Star Quest / Beyond the Rising
Moon is ample proof of that. The Making of Outerworld featurette
is worth checking out if only to see what a low-budgeted affair it truly
WORTH IT? There are loads of ingenuity and talent
on display here when one considers on how little money the movie was made.
One can only imagine what director Philip Cook can achieve if he were to
remake it with a decent screenplay, budget and actors using modern special
effects today instead of merely giving the existing movie a creaky facelift
like George Lucas did with the so-called “special editions” of
RECOMMENDATION: Not many zero budget SF efforts
gets made – after all it’s cheaper to make slasher or zombie flicks – so it
always feels wrong to knock an indie effort such as Outerworld.
However the fact remains that it is a cheesy, dull affair.