SpaceCamp – 2 out of 5
SpaceCamp was a film I saw in my youth and I only remember some bits and pieces of it. Mainly, I remember a weird looking robot and a scene where one character is sent flying away from the shuttle and potentially being lost in the endless void of space—which unnerved me greatly as a child. I haven’t watched it since those days and, for some reason, I was reminded of it and decided to give it a shot now that I am older. I really didn’t care for it.
|In space...no one can hear you scream...for ice cream.|
|"Hi, welcome to Space Camp. Yes, my shorts are|
ridiculous but they are the fashion norm of this time."
Four nerds (ha ha, I’m kidding. I’m also a nerd) travel to Cape Canaveral in Florida for the time of their lives! A three week Space Camp program where they get to learn all about NASA and get to see what it is like to be an astronaut under the tutelage of trained astronaut Andie Bergstrom (Kate Capshaw). Kathryn (Lea Thompson) is training to be a pilot, Kevin (Tate Donovan) is destined to become a commander of a space operation, Rudy (Larry B. Scott) digs science but isn’t the best at it, Tish (Kelly Preston) is the Valley Girl of the group but the Valley Girl who is a genius and has a perfect memory, and Max is the super smart and super eager 12 year old who finally convinces Andie to be a part of the main camp rather than the Junior Camp. While they train, Max befriends the advanced sentient robot of NASA named Jinx (voiced by Frank Welker). While the group is learning about how a shuttle would launch, Jinx arranged for the ship to actually have a booster ignite and Launch Control is forced to launch the shuttle so it doesn’t cause a catastrophic accident. Now Andie, the teens, and Max are trapped in space with very little oxygen and now must use what little training they experienced in order to get themselves back to the surface of the planet.
|Stop staring towards the sky like a doofus. Tom Skerritt is standing right next to you!|
|"I'm off to see if there's life on Mars!"|
"That's the moon, you idiot!"
Re-watching SpaceCamp now (which is timely because Disney just announce they are going to reboot it), I honestly wasn’t too impressed with it. It isn’t an overtly bad movie but it wasn’t one I could really get invested in. The cast is decent and the concept is fine but it just didn’t have that extra “umph” to really grab my attention. Ultimately, I think a big reason for this is due to how fast the pacing feels. The story comes across like the kids arrive at camp, spend a very short amount of time doing Space Camp stuff, and then they are off into space. Then, almost as fast as they got there, they are brought back to Earth and then the credits roll. I really never got a sense that they were ever in any real danger nor did I really get a sense of who the characters were beyond some superficial attributes that are established during their introductions. The pacing definitely feels like it is not only robbing the product of a sense of danger but also a sense of who these characters are in a real deep and meaningful way.
|And one day this young child would go on to be the idol of millions of incels and|
his abusive ways of "method acting" will be considered brilliant by snobs.
It would be a little too easy and a tad unfair to go after the film’s effects and scientific accuracy. For the most part, the special effects of the time hold up but this mostly concerns the shuttle in space. The “weightlessness” shown in the film is a little silly because a lot of it looks like the characters are just standing on their toes and lightly dipping themselves up and down for a weightless appearance. This is almost as silly as the fact the two characters who go out on a spacewalk suddenly talk in slow motion due to, I guess, the vacuum of space. Also, there is the sentient robot NASA made and the fact it can convince their computer AI to alter safety protocols in order to force a launch is a bit goofy—but that is a tad nitpicky. Other movies have set up their central point of conflict in far more ridiculous ways.
|I hope in the reboot Disney is making Jinx is sending them to space to die.|
That'll be some real stakes!
SpaceCamp is fairly harmless fluff (one that, sadly, had the ill-timed release date a few months after the Challenger disaster) but it is harmless fluff that just didn’t entertain me. With flat characters and pacing that felt too fast, I just couldn’t get into this one and it made me realize why I remember so little about this film from when I watched it as a child.