Sunday, December 21, 2014

Beyond the Rising Moon/Outerworld (1987)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

In 2054, an alien ship is found.  This ship is salvaged and the technology studied, thus giving us a whole bunch of nice technology, like faster-than-light travel.  When another one is discovered, a loophole in salvage law allows anyone to claim it, provided they get there first.  Norwegian Interworld knows where it is.  Pentan is some sort of genetically engineered cyborg sent in to steal the data from the company’s couriers for a rival company.  She steals the information as promised, but runs at the last minute, hoping to claim the ship for herself.  To do that, she finds a pilot willing to take her for the right amount of cash.

Since she’s artificial, Pentan has no real rights to speak of.  Being artificial also means that her creators were able to create a literal kill switch.  As soon as she runs, her handler presses said switch, giving Pentan 72 hours to change her mind or she’ll have a stroke.  This is a problem because the shipwreck is about 50 hours away.  She’d never be able to get there and back.  Unless, that is, she goes to meet one of her creators, who is able to shut off the device that will kill her.

Her former employers are able to follow her.  They find the planet and the shipwreck, meaning that this covert operative, who was trained in combat, has to fight against the people that trained her.  It’s the only way out other than to go back to work for them.  Given all the effort she put into getting this far, Pentan decides to fight it out.  I don’t want to totally give the ending away, but I will say it doesn’t end favorably for her former employers.

This is one of a great many movies that Netflix has available to watch online, assuming you’re a member.  I think this is one of those movies where they didn’t have to pay a lot for the rights to do so.  I don’t want to say that it’s bad.  Consider that the film was made in 1987.  There were a lot of things you might expect from a low-budget film from 25 years ago.

The most obvious is the special effects.  There were several scenes where it was incredibly obvious that they were using a green screen.  There were also a few times that I caught them reusing CGI.  It might not have been so bad if they didn’t try to reuse something from five minutes prior.  (During the final battle scene, there’s one shot from the inside of a cockpit.  Notice two asteroids floating outside the cockpit that look like they’re going to collide.)  Also, when a ship landed, the ‘ship’ that was landing appeared to be a toy.  It was so obvious, I was looking for a little rod to the side holding it up.

I can forgive the CGI because the story and script were at least pretty solid.   This is one of those cases where you’re thinking that 78 minutes is kind of short, but it’s just the right length.  It didn’t drag, nor did it feel rushed.  My only concern was the ambiguity of what Pentan was.  It was said that genetic material was taken from the best and the brightest, which led me to believe that she was entirely human.  However, she was said to have programming.  There was no talk of any sort of mechanical body parts, but she’s said to be a cyborg.  Also, the device that would kill her was said to be a bomb, yet later in the movie, it was revealed that it would give her a stroke.  I suppose it could be a very small explosive.  I certainly wouldn’t want to risk innocent bystanders, especially considering that they could be used as hostages.  (“Turn off the bomb or I’ll take them with me!”)

The acting was also pretty good.  We’re not talking Academy Award material, but I did get a sense of what the people were feeling.  Consider, though, that of the first ten people listed on IMBb, only the first four have any other acting credits.  The next six were only in this movie.

I don’t know that I’d buy this movie.  I doubt I’ll be watching it again any time soon.   If you have Netflix or can get this free on demand, definitely watch it.  (It was originally released as Beyond the Rising Moon, so you may see it under that title.)  Despite the flaws, I think it was well done, all things considered.  It’s one of those movies you can watch and be amazed how far special effects and CGI have come. 

No comments :