dir Roger Christian
scr Corey Mandell, JD Shapiro
with John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker, Kim Coates, Richard Tyson, Sabine Karsenti, Michael Byrne, Christian Tessier, Sylvian Landry, Shaun Austin-Olsen, Earl Pastko, Kelly Preston
Review by Rich Cline
It's the year 3000 and mankind is nearly extinct. Then high in the Rockies a young hunter named Jonnie (Pepper) decides to head out on his own, leaving his beloved (Karsenti), to find out what's behind his people's superstitious believe in space demons. Well, he finds out soon enough when he's captured by the psychlos, a large, brutal breed of space thugs who have decimated earth and enslaved "man-animals" to do their manual labour. Soon Jonnie and the psychlo Security Chief Terl (Travolta) lock horns in a battle of wits. Can Jonnie free the humans, conquer the psychlos and show Terl who's the boss? Silly question.
But the preposterous, predictable, reed-thin plot isn't the problem here. It's the way it's been brought to the screen by the filmmakers in such an over-the-top, harebrained way. There's nothing believable about this universe; power and gold are all the psychlos want. Some of the special effects are excellent, but most are very cheesy, with bad matte paintings and low-rent sets in which nothing much has deteriorated over a millennium of disuse. Pepper works like a trooper, putting all his energy into the role. And Travolta refreshingly refuses to take it seriously, keeping us giggling (although this is mostly due to his farcical makeup and costume). But nothing comes together, and the massively complicated action finale is so badly directed and edited that you're never sure what's happening or why. And you never care about anyone as they give their lives to save humanity. Ho hum. That's the worst crime in this otherwise so-bad-it's-good mess.
[12--violence, themes] 30.May.00
US release 12.May.00; UK release 2.Jun.00
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