Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Space Station 76

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Dammit...I didn't see the other 75 Space Station films.

Space Station 76 – 3 out of 5

Space…the final…um…place we’ll explore. Pretty much since film began, stories have taken place in space (hey, that rhymes!). Nowadays, we are treated with special effects that create a vividly detailed vision of our future and space exploration. However, back in the 70s, theses visions had a very…um…unique look to them that was intended to be the future but looked very, very 70s and disco. Honestly, the biggest appeal to me about Space Station 76 was its throwback look—hell, it was really the only reason I sought the film out in the first place.

The Future is Here! forty years ago future.

To see what he's looking at, look at the next photo!
Space Station 76 tells the story of the crew and passengers of a retro-looking space station (possibly numbered 76...but it's not...but it could have been). There’s an ornery Captain (Patrick Wilson) who seems to be depressed, at odds with his sexuality, and feels threatened by the newly arrived officer Jessica (Liv Tyler). Jessica tries to adjust herself to the new setting by befriending the young Sunshine (Kylie Rogers), the daughter to the space-equivalent of a bored housewife (Marisa Coughlan) and her equally unhappy repairman husband with a robotic arm (Matt Boomer). So, while all these isolated and bored personalities are coming to light and colliding, the station itself is on the verge of colliding with an asteroid. Uh oh!

Moments after this scene happened, the internet was instantly flooded with
dirty and horrific fan-fiction about it.

Wow, Space Station 76 summed up all four years
of high school for me in one picture.
For the most part, Space Station 76 is okay. It doesn’t do too much wrong—the throwback look is amusing, the humor in this dark comedy can, at times, be fairly decent, and the acting is good—but, at the same time, the film isn’t doing much right either. For example, the film doesn’t really feel like it has a central story going on. While, in essence, the film is about the new arrival Jessica coming to the station and trying to fit in and getting to know the passengers but it never really feels like that. Nor does the impeding threat that there might be an asteroid that could potentially hit the station (something of which Jessica will, occasionally, warn the Captain about). Instead, the film just feels like a collection of small vignettes of the characters about the station and what they are going through and they never have anything really concrete (beyond Jessica and the fact they are living together) to really connect one to the other. It gives the film an aimless feel and had me wondering the entire time, "Something is going to happen, right?" And, believe it or not, something does happen…eight minutes before the credits hit. At that point, the conflicts with each character are rapidly resolved and the film ends. It made the whole experience feel empty and like a useless gesture.

Jerry O'Connell is in the film...though, with the amount of screen time he has,
you could easily blink and miss him.

I know that last paragraph sounded harsh but the film wasn’t a complete waste—my intention is not to make it sound that way. In reality, the conflicts the characters go through are interesting and enjoyable. Whether it be watching Captain Glenn battle his demons and his feelings for an officer who left the station or the growing turmoil inside Matt Boomer’s character as he is battling thoughts of infidelity with Jessica’s arrival or even the way Jessica tries to bond with Sunshine and the results are grating to Sunshine’s mother are all interesting and make the characters inhabiting this space station interesting. The problem just comes from the fact that none of their issues really feel like they are contributing to a bigger picture in the story and they are all resolved rather lazily.

Sunshine's parents are shocking very un-hippie like.  With a name like Sunshine
you would think...but you'd be wrong.

At this point, you might be considering that I was being fairly generous with my 3 out of 5—a.k.a. Average—score. I won’t argue that because I agree completely. I am being generous because, realistically, this film was leaning more towards my 2 due to its sloppy story and its ending that results in an empty feeling. However, I went against a 2 due to two things. The first of those two things is the retro look of the film. I was raised on Sci-Fi tales looking like Space Station 76 does and the set design and costumes this film is sporting fills me with nostalgia. However, at the same time, given the story the way it is, I can’t help but think that this element was utilized in order to hide the less than developed areas of the film. The movie would have, most likely, been a complete wash if they went with the more modern look of what we call the future in our entertainment. this R.O.B.'s cousin or something?

The second thing I really enjoyed about the film was the performance from Patrick Wilson. Not only did I enjoy his banter with his costars—whether it be his animosity towards Jessica or his boredom when Sunshine asks him questions about the station—but I also really dug his internal, non-vocal banter as he battled to come to terms with his sexuality and how that often led him towards a desire to commit suicide (this element also led to some very funny moments as the ship’s computer and automated systems such down all attempts). Wilson seems to be channeling a bit of Ron Burgundy (and not just in mustache form) with his ultra-macho persona he puts off and it resulted in a fun performance from the talented actor.

"Stay Classy, Space San Diego."

Space Station 76 has its issues but it never completely bored me, it just didn’t thoroughly entertain me. The story has a very sloppy approach and a lot of the humor falls very, very flat. But it’s gimmick of a retro look and a very strong performance from Wilson made up for many of the shortcomings. However, the sad reality is the film had a lot of potential and probably could have been quite brilliant. It’s too bad that was never realized.

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