8:00 PM, 27th April, 2001
Every Clint Eastwood movie contains this one scene, in which the hero (always Clint) bursts into the office of his superior and confronts him over why he's being screwed over. This one is no exception, with old Clint asking James Cromwell why the hell he isn't going to be an astronaut. This extended, unexplained conflict is eventually resolved after 40 years and Clint goes into space with his old-man posse.
A decent school-holiday movie that 12-year-old boys would love if the heroes weren't all eligible for one-dollar bus tickets. But then, every joke in this film (yes, all two of them) is aimed at the notion of sending retirees into space, the reason for this briefly mentioned as being the need to repair obsolete Russian satellite technology. And, speaking of unexplained, why are the Russians still the enemy after the Cold War has been over for ten years? There is a good ensemble cast, including Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner. Despite what the advertising says, this is just another mediocre Clint Eastwood action movie in which the world must be saved by a bunch of old farts in space suits. No, there aren't any cool special effects. Yes, Clint is again upstaged by a monkey.
10:20 PM, 27th April, 2001
The crew of the starship Dark Star((mdash))its indefinite mission: to seek out 'unstable planets' that may pose a threat to future colonisation and destroy them using intelligent, self-detonating warheads. Their Captain is dead, but his frozen remains can be warmed up just enough for a few words of advice. They've been out in space for a very, very long time now. The strain and the unending tedium are pushing the men to the edge.
Dark Star is dark (obviously), claustrophobic, tense, and often extremely funny. Highlights include the pursuit of an escaped alien creature and negotiations with a recalcitrant nuke. Dark Star is definitely the "Anti Star Trek": it provides a bitter, post-Vietnam alternative to the squeaky-clean militarism of the Enterprise. I am sure that the makers of "Red Dwarf" were very familiar with Dark Star, the family resemblance is very strong. The first feature film for Director John Carpenter (Halloween, Escape from New York) and writer Dan O'Bannon (Alien, Total Recall), Dark Star was in fact an expanded version of a student film project. It shows that people who make movies at university can become famous and successful in Hollywood (hint, hint, ANUFG members).