Article 2778 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-15-2008
Posting Date: 3-22-2009
Directed by John Sturges
Featuring Gregory Peck, Richard Crenna, David Janssen
Three astronauts find themselves stranded in their spacecraft when the retro rockets fail. NASA must engage in a race against time in order to rescue them.
The cast is impressive (Gregory Peck, Richard Crenna, David Janssen, James Franciscus and Gene Hackman) and the special effects are indeed special. But unless you find NASA engineers speaking endless jargon through microphones hypnotically compelling, or are fascinated by the space technology the camera lovingly caresses, you will probably find this overlong science fiction thriller to be really tough going. Though the lack of music (other than a kind of ambient outer space hum) does give the movie an interesting texture, it also leaves the viewer on his own to try to pick up any emotional resonances and to find the excitement therein. It also doesn’t help that the three astronauts, to save oxygen, must try their best to keep calm, a situation not conducive the building excitement. Hackman, as the astronaut who has trouble keeping calm, has the only really interesting role here; Peck plays a standard authority figure, Janssen plays Janssen, and Crenna and Franciscus are stalwart, stoic and little else. It gets more interesting towards the end, but it’s all too low-key, and many of the scenes go on way too long. A better script, livelier direction, and more merciless editing would have helped immensely here.