Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Outland Revisited

I've always liked this film, but over the past decade or so I've heard many people refer to it as weak High Noon rip-off. Unfortunately, sometimes a film can develop such a reputation that it is difficult to see it without importing certain biases. I caught it again on late night digital cable last week, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I still like it. Sure, it has flaws as well as elements of High Noon, but the whole coroporate corruption angle makes for a nice 80s update.

The real strongpoint here is Connery's slow burn. Like many of you, I kind of cringe when I think of much of the Scotsman's work over the past 20 years. Here, he is at his best when he is very human - best represented in the scene where his wife leaves him by video message (nice). I don't recall ever feeling sorry for a Connery character before. I'd say that this film is primed for a remake, but it really hasn't aged all that much. Sure, some of the computer screen shots could use an upgrade, but the sets and costumes are as effective as they are low tech. Much like John Carpenter's the Thing, and Ridley Scott's Alien - the atmosphere here is palpable, it's one of desperation compounded by remoteness. For a thinking man's thriller, you can do much worse than Outland. Now, if only they'd stop showing the same dark and dirty print on TV!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A remake would only do this film injustice. IF the studio would finally release a decent looking, cleaned up print of this well made film, it might finally get its due, it's classic Sci-Fi. I wish Peter Boyle's career had taken off from this point, I thought both he and Connery did a great job, as well as Frances Sternhagen. Really good casting, attention to visual detail allowed this to rise above its western-based plot and remain timely and entertaining.