SciFi
Outland
.
Dir: Peter Hyams
Star: Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen, James Sikking
Cert / Year: 15 - R 1981
Format: DVD R2
'

A number of sci-fi movies have been made that were based on westerns. This film is one of them, being basically High Noon in space.

In a remote mining facility on Jupiter moon Io the miners lead a bleak and hard existence, and recently there has been a high incidence of suicides. William T. O'Neil (Connery) is the new marshal who despite the opposition of the mine manger Sheppard (Boyle) decides to investigate. With the help of the crotchety old Doctor (Sternhagen) O'Neil uncovers a drug network that is supplying work enhancing drugs (with the nasty side effect that they drive you mad and to suicide) to the miners. At the head of the network is the Sheppard, who O'Neil confronts with his evidence. Sheppard hires hit men to arrive on the next shuttle, and O'Neil overhears him. The tension builds until the final confrontation when O'Neil must face the hired guns alone

The film is written and directed by genre director Peter Hyams, (who was also responsible for Capricorn One, 2010, The Relic and urm Timecop) and here he has made a good job. The script is great, providing a good selection of well rounded characters for the cast. The interplay between Sheppard, O'Neil and the character of Dr Lazuras is particularly notable. The script is matched by the direction, which is fast paced and clever. Effective use is made of the shuttle arrival clock to increase the tension as O'Neils time runs out before the final showdown. Another example of the quality of direction is the scenes in the squash court, in which the contrasting location is used to full effect to progress the story.

On the negative side, the special effects have dated. The model of the mining facility is great when viewed in a distance shot, but not so hot when the characters are climbing all over it in the film. The effects used for the explosions of people in a vacuum also leave a lot to be desired. However these are relatively minor niggles, and on the whole I prefer the models in this case to CGI any day of the week.

Also on the downside are some of the scenes that detail O'Neilís home life, which are quite frankly just twee. The dialogue is sickly sweet and this brings me to the worst piece of casting in movie history. The young lad (Nicholas Barnes) who plays O'Neilís son, Paul, cannot act and is clearly too old for the part. This is a shame as the rest of the cast are excellent. Sean Connery is a class act (all be it one with a Scottish accent as normal), and Frances Sternhagen is simply great as the Doctor.

Outland is a good piece of sci-fi entertainment. It is well scripted and directed. The chemistry between the leads is good. The age of the film should not let it be overlooked as it often is.

Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD
Picture 2.35:1 A bit grainy but largely damage free.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Ok but not the most exciting soundtrack.
Features Production Notes
Trailer
Verdict Not a particularly good transfer and pretty much no extras, not good enough.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home