Tuesday 23 January 2024

Movie Review: Outland

Directed by Peter Hyams, 1981
IMDb listing

After being transferred to be the new head of security on a mining colony on Io, Marshal William O’Niel must decide if he wants to toe the line or bust the drug ring he uncovers.

The special effects are really good. The station looks dirty and lived in, with a claustrophobic mix of large spaces broken down into small cubicles and living quarters. It’s very much a realistic - and rather horrifying - guess at what a company town would look like. Little private space, little regard for the workers, lots of emphasis on productivity and profit for the company.

There’s a realistic 3 day transfer time from the orbiting space station and the planet, which the story uses to good effect. The tech is all so outdated watching them write emails and watch video messages is kind of painful, though it was futuristic stuff for the early 80s.

The extended final fight was entertaining. I question some of the structural integrity of the complex and the mine’s ability to continue operating after some important sections of the base were destroyed though. Oddly the massive damage to the base isn’t commented on by anyone in the film.

While it’s not the best film set in space, it was entertaining and embodies a lot of the themes later 80s films would focus on.

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