Space-Related Space-Mishaps and Space-Mis-Adventures In Space?
By Nathan Garden
What can one say about a science-fiction film whose protagonist wears shades while he’s in hyper-sleep? Whose heroine is seduced by the line, ‘You’re the most beautiful human I’ve never digested’? A science-fiction film with a title like Space-Related Space-Mishaps and Space-Mis-Adventures In Space? Well, first of all one has to ask, did they spend so long dithering over a title that they eventually settled for a loose description of the film instead? Watching these words parade across the screen and listening to triumphal music as the opening credits zoom along under them is a worrying start, but silly though it may be, its title is the least of Space’s worries.
Be warned: even the most dedicated masochist will be hard-pushed to put up with most of the garbage in this film. Because, amongst many other things, it is marred by a disintegrating plot, papier mâché aliens which frequently burst to reveal the gormless stunt men cowering inside, and a plenitude of gooey sex scenes. You’d think it would be impossible, but it’s all in there.
The plot is simple enough. The galaxy is divided into two alliances, each comprised of thousands of planets. At the opening of the film, they have become antagonistic towards each other to the point where total war is imminent. Thus, Captain Dwain Muscles and his crew aboard the Titan spacecraft are sent to scour the galaxy looking for a select few sagely figures, rescue them from whatever perils they find themselves in, then escort them to a neutral congress where they hope to deflate the tensions. You will not be surprised to learn that negotiations break down and the Titan crew are soon embroiled in a galactic war.
It is commendable that Space approaches a conflict from the diplomacy side of things which, it must be said, is rare for a science-fiction film. It is just a shame that the premise soon erupts into a pandemonium of poorly-executed set pieces and smut. Because, his battlefield heroics notwithstanding, Dwain Muscles abandons his duties often enough to seduce a medley of sultry female aliens with varying numbers of brightly-coloured, pendulous breasts. And not without reaping the benefits. Indeed, one of his many lovers transpires to be the queen of a remote planet who is so impressed by his sexual prowess that she endows him with an entire army of her subjects so that he may even the odds against his nemesis, the evil squid-android Vet-Valdor who, it turns out, has been masterminding the impending conflict all along. It’s preposterous, but it all happens.
The acting is simply diabolical. There is a convincing argument that, in fact, that what we have instead of actors is a group of toned, scantily clad non-entities dumbly marching down corridors, glumly pressing buttons, and mumbling at computer screens. We can understand their embarrassment and the obvious reluctance with which they say their lines because the script they have been dished up will enter bad film lore as one of the monuments of the age, but there is no way out of it: these people are not acting. They are saying words in front of a camera, true enough, but there is nothing going on inside their heads other than a recurring gag reflex, an obligation to spout out the words they’ve been told to say.
It can only be fuel to the fire that it has since emerged that of the ‘actors’ who make up the Titan crew, two of the men and one woman (appropriately playing Galactress, Dwain Muscles’ promiscuous, omni-lingual side-kick) have previously plied their trade in porn films. This perhaps makes the cast a marginally more interesting bunch, but it is actually a rather unsettling little nugget of trivia because it exposes the pitiful lengths to which this film has had to go to fill its ranks. Indeed, there can be no mistake beyond the very first scene that Space has only managed to meet its quota by luring its ‘stars’ out of Hollywood’s soup kitchen for cast-offs and re-write rejects, ‘actors’ with absolutely no talent at all, but who at least had the good manners to turn up with the bare essentials required for a science-fiction epic: pert bums, throbbing biceps, and the irremediable awkwardness, the cluelessness of people used to letting their bodies do the talking.
A case in point of the overall dinginess of Space would be Dwain Muscles himself, surely the most hateful, sexist buffoon in all of science-fiction. Roughly one third of his dialogue is smug, sleazy innuendos (“You want me to check the back end, do ya?”) and woeful one-liners (“How’s that for a blaster?”). Having accomplished nothing within the plot, he swaggers from one scene to the next accompanied by his diminishing entourage of buff mechanics, constantly adjusting his hideous baseball cap, flaunting the bulge in his crotch, binging on grey space-beer, and sauntering into bed with whichever alien countess he desires before scurrying off to save the day with his sonic watch. None of his jokes make sense, he brawls with complete strangers for no reason, and blames his crew for crashing a space ship only he is trained to pilot. It is simply impossible to root for this obnoxious, talentless bozo. Indeed, every time a new fight kicks off you pray for any one of the bumbling monsters to finally put an end to him, but with no such luck.
In the broader scheme of things, after only half an hour there are already so many things and places and people popping up and disappearing all over the place that the plot is in turmoil. Before an hour is over, the dialogue has simply become a minefield, with almost every single line calling up a new plot hole or inconsistency, or dropping another name into the never-ending list of no-shows. Just to keep us guessing, unfamiliar characters occasionally turn up to report to Dwain Muscles about missions they have just completed, missions which we have clearly seen were actually accomplished half an hour ago by different characters who, for some reason, are listening curiously, having never heard of such activities.
It is not a complicated plot: the crew are dispatched to collect some aliens. They bring them back, have a meeting, and a war breaks out. And yet, this very simple structure is butchered by a script which cannot agree with itself from one line to the next, and instead crumbles under the weight of its hundreds of mistakes like a toddler carrying a piano.
As if it didn’t have enough deficiencies already, Space is also incomprehensibly smutty. Until now, I thought it was impossible for science fiction to stoop this low, but Space is studded with gratuitous, totally inconsequential sex scenes. Because as well as Dwain Muscles’ eclectic sexual conquests, Galactress haphazardly falls into bed with a formidable array of slobbering aliens, one of whom is a car-sized, snail-like cyborg with a spotlight attached to its head, another of whom needs to screw on several components and wind himself up before things get steamy. It’s messy, but it all happens, and it happens quite often: whether we like it or not, we are periodically left to witness prolonged doses of slimy, groggy inter-terrestrial sex in dimly lit caves or deluxe escape pods before the characters nonchalantly peel their scarlet latex back on and we hurtle back to the ‘plot’ and another spiel of saucy banter.
It is beyond my comprehension that these scenes have survived the cutting room and yet there are plot holes all over the place, jump cuts in the middle of characters’ lines, and what seems to be at least forty minutes of missing scenes. Why so much incohesion has been overlooked and so much of the plot abandoned, and yet we are treated to nearly four excruciating minutes of Galactress’ ‘rendezvous’ with the mercenary Kruzgod, a minotaur-like crustacean, is open to debate.
It defies belief, but it all happens. And by the time it’s all over you feel ashamed of yourself for having watched this drivel. You feel as if you have just gotten away with doing something sordid in public. You question your intellect, your self-respect, your prospects. Indeed, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this what it has come to? Is my time really worth so little that I am willing to spend it watching Space-Related Space-Mishaps and Space-Mis-Adventures In Space?’
Ostensibly a serious science-fiction adventure film, it is often necessary to remind yourself that Space is not a spoof. This is not to suggest that it is funny: merely that it is so farcical from start to finish that ‘spoof’ seems to be the only genre that could possibly accommodate it. But this would be an insult to spoofs because Space isn’t clever, it isn’t memorable, and it isn’t funny. It is a grotty, tasteless parasite that latches onto the esteemed science-fiction genre and has to cling on for dear life for any hope of recognition. Science-fiction was meant for better things than this but, sadly, it will be made to answer for this idiotic misfit for decades to come.
Most depressing of all, however, and what is filling science-fiction lovers everywhere with a bile of dread, is that the word is already seeping down that this is the first in a trilogy. God only knows where the funding is coming from, but if we’re in for more of the same, it is safe to say that this could be one of the worst sagas ever committed to film. But surely things will improve: it isn’t asking much for a sequel to be better than this. There must be someone somewhere who can salvage something from the scrapheap and build a newer, better model. We can but hope that Captain Dwain Muscles and his motley crew of robots, aliens and porn stars can find something better to do with their time in their galaxy before the sequel is released, because we can certainly find plenty in ours.