Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Written by Philip Eisner
Starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson, Kathleen Quinlan, Richard T. Jones
My Advice: Matinee.
Okay, let me say this right out of the starting gate. I eat pepperoni pizza and watch Dawn of the Dead at the same time, okay? I am not one to let myself get overly disturbed by a film; the last instance of that was Jacob’s Ladder. But this film left me completely and utterly unable to sleep. This has never happened before. So I look at this film with a great deal of respect, despite its flaws.
Plot: A superhightech spaceship disappears and then reappears seven years later, and a team is sent to investigate. First, let’s get some things out of the way that are obvious problems: Some of the laws of physics are not just broken but sneered at. Also, somewhere along the line Eisner thought to himself, “Cenobite.” There is a question about a particular recording and how far-fetched it is that everyone’s forgotten how to speak Latin other than one guy on a spaceship. But there’s a lot of other things that make you think those things later: A harrowing sequence in an airlock, a really messed up clue of what happened to the ship’s original crew, and the production design with a ship sure to please any black-eyelined leather-wearing goth.
It’s a crying shame that the original script with its uber-creepy ending was not used. That would be enough to give you some seriously sleepless nights. But still–for some reason, this film just clicked with me even though they decided to drop back and settle for “Hellraiser in Space.” Can’t really explain why it still works for me.
Fishburne plays his leadership role as a pillar of strength. Neill is creepy as all hell. The rest of the crew establish themselves well, so you care about them surviving when the shit starts to fly, a lesson forgotten in cousins of this flick, for example Alien Resurrection (and no, I will never cease bashing that piece of crap). A welcome film from Anderson (who gave us the enjoyable guilty pleasure of the Mortal Kombat film) and a first outing from Eisner, it’s a hoot.