This is version of the future from a 1970’s view. A new second in command Jessica (Liv Tyler) goes to her new assignment out on an isolated space station. She isn’t well received by Captain Glenn (Patrick Wilson). She does make friends with technician Ted (Matt Bomer) who is married to food computer preparation person Misty (Marisa Coughlin) plus they have a seven year old daughter Sunshine (Kylie Rogers). There are also supporting characters Steve (Jerry O’Connell), his wife Donna (Kali Rocha) and their baby. Wait why I am just talking about characters instead of the plot and action? Oh because there isn’t much action or plot. It’s all about the sad, horrible lives of the above people. Jessica can’t have kids and while she connects with Ted and Sunshine she is disliked by Misty and the Captain. Captain Glenn is guy but struggles with this and effected his relationship with his former second in command. Ted and Misty are no longer close and just stay together for their daughter. Misty uses valium and booze to make it through the day while Ted smokes pot and jerks off while imagining a topless star woman. Sunshine is lonely and when she starts to get along with Jessica her mom Misty starts being more and more cruel to Sunshine. Wow it’s like a crap soap opera only in space. Oh and so you know all of the lame drama – Donna is a busy body and she’s materialistic while her husband Steve fools around behind her back. So these people just go around being sad and mostly unlikable with an occasional funny part thrown in. Eventually Donna and Steve are being transferred to a place they want to go to. This steams Ted and Misty who would rather they get go. The captain contemplates suicide and struggles with his sexuality but mostly he just smokes and is mean to everyone else. A robot psychiatrist spouts off cliches based on a single word uttered by the patient. Somewhere in between the build up of these shallow characterizations an asteroid goes off course and heads towards the station. There is a Christmas party that leads to everyone yelling at each other. The the stray asteroid scrapes the station but destroys the vehicle that Steve and Donna were going to use to depart. So this causes everyone to be grateful to be alive and they act a little nicer. Roll the credits.
The positives-The sets, costumes and the station and ships all look pretty good. They are a cross of being inspired by 2001 (look for an all too brief cameo by Keir Dullea as Jessica’s dad), Space:1999, Silent Running,Buck Rogers and other shows and films of the time. The soundtrack is quite good as well. Some other little touches of the 70’s are tossed in like Donna using a view master to look at the latest fashion designs, Jessica does target practice on a 70’s Asteroids inspired video game and Ted and Steve are deeply entertained playing air hockey in the lounge.
The negatives-This film had a mostly good cast but wastes them as unlikable characters. The director says he intended this as a black comedy. Yet it comes across as depressing without any speck of humor unless you just like seeing others suffer and if you do then shame on you. While I like the 70’s inspired sets and costumes it doesn’t add much to the film since they decided to be a black comedy instead of a pure spoof. The film is slow and often tedious due to the depressing characters. I was only able to watch it to the end due to the sets and costumes and the faint hope that the film would get better which it didn’t.
I had high hopes for this film when I first heard about it, but other than the visuals there isn’t much to recommend about it.