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Film Review: Space Mutiny (1988)

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SYNOPSIS:

A pilot is the only hope to stop the mutiny of a spacecraft by its security crew, who plot to sell the crew of the ship into slavery.

REVIEW:

I mentioned this in a previous review, but it’s worth repeating. Space Mutiny is the centerpiece of one of the funniest episodes of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000, and with good reason too. The movie is so hilariously inept that it was ripe fodder for Mike Nelson and his robot friends to riff on it mercilessly. It goes without saying that this is not a particularly good movie. The real question then is whether or not it manages to be entertaining.

The film takes place aboard a large space vessel called the Southern Sun, which is designed to transport its denizens from their homeworld to a new planet to colonize. The journey has been going on for over three generations, so many people have spent their entire lives aboard the ship. The evil Kalgan wants off the ship, so he makes a deal with some of the crew members and some space pirates hijack the ship. It falls to the heroic pilot, Dave Ryder, to foil Kalgan’s plan and save the people of the Southern Sun.

This flick is filled with so many mistakes that to list them all in one place could end up making this review the length of a novella. To give you some of the highlights, let’s start with the Southern Sun where the majority of the movie takes place. The sets are so poorly designed and lack any kind of cohesive logic. One moment the main design seems to be neutral colors that took cues from an office setting. Except the walls were made of cardboard. However, the “engineering” area was all railings, pipes, and brick walls. Which is surprising since I didn’t think brick would be something used in a spaceship. In fact, it looked suspiciously like they were just using an old factory of some kind to stand in for an engineering section of a starship.

The inconsistency doesn’t stop there. You’ll notice that actors whose characters were killed off in one scene shows up later in the movie. Sometimes they even show up in the very next scene that follows their death. It made one wonder if the editor fell asleep on the job. Of course, the director could have made things easier if he actually tried to have the actor do something to slightly change their appearance. I mean, was it too hard to have the performers at least wear a wig or put on a fake beard if they’re supposed to be playing someone else? It not only made the move seem cheap (which, granted, it was), but it also seemed lazy.

Another thing that’s really hard to miss is how much it stole footage from the original Battlestar Galactica series whenever they showed anything taking place in outer space. I’m surprised that someone didn’t try to sue the pants off the people. I understand that this production was South African, so there’s a chance that they’re not subject to the same copyright laws. There’s also the possibility that the movie was such a disaster that it wasn’t worth anyone’s time to sue over. Either is a plausible explanation, but it’s still amazing to me how blatantly the usage of that footage was.

The acting was all over the place as well. Some actors gave stilted or flat out wooden performances, while others went the opposite direction and went into full overacting mode. The only halfway decent performance came from Cameron Mitchell, but even he was still pretty bad. Our main hero was played by Reb Brown, who was never a good actor. I think the kindest you can say is that he’s serviceable. However, his performance still feels like a guy that works at a gym that happens to fall into the whole acting gig without having much in the way of actual talent to back it up. It’s like watching the captain of the football team taking drama classes in college. It’s almost cute. John Phillip Law as the evil Kalgan chewed the scenery like there was no tomorrow. He gleefully went over the top in his performance every chance he got, and bless him for it. He really made.

Now here’s the beauty of the movie. It’s is so bad that it’s unintentionally funny. Space Mutiny is easily one of the worst sci-fi movies you’ll ever see. However, it manages to still be entertaining. It’s right up there with Tommy Wiseau’s The Room in how strangely fun it is to watch. If you’re a lover of bad flicks, there’s a lot to like here. It’s even more fun if you watch the MST3K episode.

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