I watched it again recently and didn't think it was a total disaster. It has some interesting ambiguities, a sense of eerie dread at times and the robots are good fun. Furthermore, the film looks good (for the most part), with some nice design work for the Cygnus and the robots.
|Posted: 27 November 2018 at 4:38pm | IP Logged | 3
The film suffers from four key areas:
1. An ill-judged ending
2. Dull human characters
3. Clunky dialogue at times
4. The 'mish-mash' element that Robin talks about above.
It's part 4 that I'm going to talk about in a bit more detail, as it derails things badly. As I said above, the film has some decent eerie bits, boarding the ghost ship only to find Dr Reinhardt and his odd crew, but is he telling the truth, there's a mystery with the limping robot, etc. This bit is all pretty good, and then there's the kind of B storyline with Old B.O.B. and his rivalry with the 'black hat' S.T.A.R. (for some reason, I think we used to call him Captain S.T.A.R. when I was a kid), which I think is also kind of fun.
But -- as I understand it-- the film was originally conceived as a kind of disaster movie and the film veers into disaster movie territory with the arrival of the meteor storm. That big fiery meteor rolling through the Cygnus as our heroes cross a gantry right before it may look pretty stunning, but it is also kind of pointless and makes no sense (the Cygnus seems to hold up remarkably well despite having such an incredibly substantial hole from just one meteor) and, worst of all, distracts and diverts the film from its core narrative.
Then we have that weird ending bolted on (and early in the film we have a line about Dante's Inferno shoe-horned into the script perhaps to foreshadow this, but it's a clunky old line that no-one would ever say).
Also casually shoe-horned in is Dr McCrae's telepathic link with V.I.N.CENT. I presume (though I don't know) that this was a kind of attempt to mimic some of the JEDI stuff from Star Wars, but in Star Wars it's not just an ancillary feature; it's carefully woven into the core of the story and ultimately proves to be a pivotal part of the film's resolution. Not here!
I still think V.I.N.CENT is a treat, in multiple ways, including Roddy McDowall's voice work, the character's unstinting confidence and bravery and the impressive full-size thing floating around on screen with the actors. Maximillian is also visually very impressive (one of the ambiguities I like is how Reinhardt seems to struggle to control Maximillian. At one point he asks Dr McCrae for protection from Maximillian, which I would take as a pretense, but later on seems genuinely annoyed that Maximillian drills Durant).
The film has some good matte painting work in general, though it's not flawless (some of the humanoids on the bridge are matte paintings in some shots and their absolute stillness destroys the illusion).