Outland [Blu-Ray] Peter Hyams

Outland [Blu-Ray] Peter Hyams
Boiled down to its core, Outland is a dick-measuring contest on the third moon of Jupiter. Peter Hyams (the man responsible for painful schlock like Timecop and A Sound of Thunder) assembled this colossal turkey for release in 1981 and the regressive themes (lifted from High Noon), laughable composite shots and cheesy special effects haven't aged well. Not that age is any kind of excuse for this largely inept and inert piece of lame chest thumping ― plenty of sci-fi movies made in that era play just fine. Sean Connery stars as William O'Niel, the new Marshall of a mining colony on Io, a man who puts his egotistical sense of self-worth above the needs of his family. Justifiably fed up with his self-righteous sense of duty, William's wife leaves a video version of a "Dear, John" note for the stoic Scotsman, explaining that she's taking their son to Earth to start a new life. William declines to join them, citing unfinished business in a cause he knows he can't affect meaningful change in. Namely, the drug trade led by the GM of the mining operation, Mark Sheppard (Peter Boyle, giving the only decent performance, aside from Connery). While the Marshall is still trying to determine the cause of a recent upswing in madness-related suicides, Outland's story has a bit of promise (forget the visual presentation ― it's atrocious, other than the functional set design), but those procedural and psychological elements are skirted over and wrapped up swiftly. The second half of the film is primarily comprised of puffy male bravado, with Connery and Boyle squaring off verbally between sequences of sloppy, boring action, set to a bombastic score at odds with the movie's plodding pace. Hyams' attempts to depict a dehumanizing system of corporate exploitation facilitated by the propensity for inaction in the general populace is undermined by stiff dialog, poor cinematography, a complete disregard for the laws of physics (you can't fall in zero gravity!!!) and the director's troubling habit of inserting shots that have nothing to do with the narrative. In this Blu-Ray reissue, the sole feature is a commentary track with writer/director Hyams; his sporadic blathering about technical details he doesn't understand and incessant fawning over Connery are as uninteresting as the film. (Warner)