|Dir:||Phillip J. Roth|
|Star:||Olivier Gruner, Alicia Coppola, Ken Olandt|
|Cert / Year:||15 - R / 1998|
Ray Stokes (Olivier Gruner)is a cop on a bleak mining planet. He has ratted out his boss and number of fellow officers, needless to say this has not made him popular. Therefore when these people decide to assassinate the new administrator assigned to investigate the allegations he is chosen to take the fall. His punishment is the pointless job of guarding a freighter carrying forty billion dollars while its crew sleeps on the six-month journey to Earth. But unbeknown to him a desperate band of criminals have hatched a plan to rob the freighter as it passes through the velocity run (the Bermuda triangle of space). It will be up to him to escape the velocity trap.
Films are not always what they appear to be. For example many major films disappoint as they fail to live up to their hype, or their budget. A much more rare occurrence is a film that should be rubbish yet turns out to be very good. I am happy report that Velocity trap is definitely in the later. The evidence for its assumed awfulness is strong, for a start it is low budget sci-fi, secondly it stars Olivier Gruner, and lastly it is a Phillip Roth production.
But hold on, Phillip Roth occasionally does turn out some quality low budget fare, for example the more than palatable film Apex. UFO films are a small independent production company set up by Phillip Roth and others in order to produce small movies, and they specialise in sci-fi films. Many of their films are written in house and they have their own special effects team. They tend to use television actors and a fixed number of B movie actors (Olivier Gruner, Craig Wasson, and part UFO owner Ken Olandt). While their fare is variable they are usually well made and the effects tend to be very good and occasionally they get it spot on.
Velocity Trap is one of these occasions. It has a good script, very good effects and is well directed. It even has a career best performance from Olivier Gruner. The script is original and witty; it has plenty of action and succeeds more often than it fails. Ok so occasionally it is a bit confusing (mainly due to some postproduction editing) and it does works far better once things move space side, but these faults are the exception rather than the rule.
The star of the show is definitely the special effects. They are of excellent quality and there are loads of them. The have been used intelligently and provide the films most impressive scenes including the escape from the exploding asteroid and the brilliant shuttle battle.
The cast is a mixed bunch headed by the usually awful Olivier Gruner. Usually awful, but not this time. Thanks to some good direction from Roth we actually have a good Gruner performance with the people tell be I'm very funny and ballet dancing scenes working well. The rest of the cast is capable with Alicia Coppola being the pick of the bunch. On the down side (apart from Ken Olandt's bad hair and fake tattoo, and Jorga Fox's ridiculous breast armour) Anna Karin is terrible, as are the guys playing the security guards in the opening section. My only other comment is that there aren't really enough bad guys.
Velocity trap works when by all rights it shouldn't. It has its low budget moments for sure (the absolutely absurd robot in the air vents being the worst, or possibly Victor Love's huge gun) but it also has some really exciting moments. At the end of the day the script and the effects save the day, ensuring the film is entertaining rather than the excruciating. This isn't big box office like Star Wars. It is an example of a good quality sci-fi B movie, and when viewed as such its works really well.
|1.85:1 Anamorphic||A top quality picture|
|Dolby Digital 5.1||Good but spatially a little under used|
|Some nice menus|
|An excellent audio commentary by Gruner, Roth and the lead special effects designer. This is a interesting look at look budget film making.|
|A good disc especially for a film of this budget. The extras are limited but it is worth it for the audio comentary.|