Outland (1981)

OUTLAND (1981)
Article 3652 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-30-2011
Posting Date: 8-14-2011
Directed by Peter Hyams
Featuring Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen
Country: UK
What it is: Science fiction western

A new Marshall takes charge in a mining colony on the moon of Io and discovers there’s been a number of mysterious deaths caused by people going crazy. His research reveals that the management has been increasing production with a deadly amphetamine drug to increase production.

My first experience with this movie was through having read a review of it that took it to task for its wealth of scientific errors, and for trying to adapt a western story to a science fiction setting, arguing that science fiction should only be used to tell stories that can’t be told any other way. The above plot description doesn’t really touch on the western aspects of the story, but they are there; the movie works itself up to a HIGH NOON-like premise, in which the Marshall must face and defeat hired killers intent on gunning him down. I don’t know how much the scientific errors really bother me, as I doubt that I would have noticed most of them; the one that does bother me is that it does seem pretty dunderheaded to be using projectile weapons in the sort of environment where a hole in the wall could kill everyone in the room. As for the use of a western motif, I suspect that there’s a lot of science fiction movies out there over the years that largely use the science fiction aspects for background and trappings in stories that could be told in other mediums. For what it’s worth, I enjoy this movie a lot more than MOON ZERO TWO, which was roughly trying to do the same thing, but I do know the more that it reveals its western sensibility, the more predictable it becomes. The climax is somewhat disappointing; one of the hit men acts with incredible stupidity, and the final fight sequence looks clumsy in space suits. Yet, overall, I found the movie passable, albeit too long.

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