I always manage to leave just enough time between viewings of Outland for it to still give me an exciting fresh feeling. Probably watch it every six years since my first viewing in the late 80’s. Actually, I could watch it on Earth, then squeeze myself into the Galileo spacecraft, go into hypersleep for the six year trip to Jupiter I, wake up and watch it on the space station, return home and repeat.
I’m a sucker for dirty gritty industrial complexes in space, something Outland really excels in. So many beautiful looking set designs. If they were lazy they could’ve of easily saved a whole heap of money just using the same sets from different angles, however they spoil us with a constant supply of awe inspiring structures. Whether it’s corridors, gangways, control rooms, prison cells, stairwells, kitchens, hospital units to individual sleeping quarters. Plus throw in an unwind saucy nightclub to let your hair down in and they even find room for a squash court!
The attention to detail again outshines itself with all the spacesuits they created, they could of gone for a couple of workers suited up and maybe a few hung up on suit racks. But we are again blessed with a real treat as all the workers line up in their different colour suits, all used, dirty and claustrophobic, creating an awesome visual picture for us the viewer.
Then there’s the outside mining area and construction site with the industrial workforce spacesuited up against the “goodbye” elements of the harsh expanse of space. The whole design of the mining outpost Con-Am 27 is vast and feels very populated. Actually there’s so many people on this base that they need a whole security unit, which is where our hero comes in, step forward Marshal William T. O’Niel (Sean Connery). The new Marshal to a small band of men, a honorable man who doesn’t take no shit, a man no one at Con-Am 27 is going to like that much.
Tagline – Even in space, the ultimate enemy is man
This base is run by Mark Sheppard (Peter Boyle) the company man for the mining group Conglomerates Amalgamated. A tough man who runs his operation to the limit, pushing overtime and long shifts for big bonuses and the reward of partying hard as long as high productivity is met. There’s a catch to this though, all these extra hours take a strain on the human body resulting in a collection of bizarre suicidal episodes and psychotic outbursts. Let’s be honest, having a suicidal attack inside your spacesuit in the vacuum of space can result in a very messy affair. With these incidents Marshal O’Niel is determined to find out what the hell is going on, which in hand puts him on the path to lock horns with Sheppard.
A film of two halves, first a murder mystery, the second High Noon in space. With the pending arrival of possible hitmen, Marshal O’Niel is really out on his own, just like possibly his old ancestor, Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) before him in Earth’s past.
Can our lone gunman hero put on his space spurs and survive through this onslaught in the vastness of this space saloon without any friends? It’s a classic story transformed into a highly skillful and sublime looking science fiction tale.
A few little thoughts………
- I like the use of shotguns rather than future laser guns, in my mind they are less likely to blast holes though the hull maybe?
- Good to see deep fried crinkle cut chips make it to the future!
- Cranky, cynical and overworked outpost doctor Dr. Lazarus (Frances Sternhagen) steals some fantastic scenes with her boisterous mood. I would love to get pissed with her.
- Loved the zero gravity prison lock up.
- Good to see an early role from Clarke Peters AKA Det. Lester Freamon from The Wire playing cop Ballard.
- Can’t understand the IMDb rating at all, it’s should be higher than it is.
- Directed and written by Peter Hyams who’s made two other favourite films of mine, the brilliant Capricorn One with Elliott Gould and James Brolin and the comedy action buddy movie Running Scared starring Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal.
There are film fans, including myself that like to think that Outland and the Alien films could be connected, maybe part of the same universe. What with mining ships, corporations and the similar environments. Obviously helped on by the fact the set designs are similar due to connections from a few original Alien set team and designers working on both projects and plus just plainly being inspired by Alien and the mega bucks it earnt. Adding to this connection theme is the music score from composer Jerry Goldsmith who created the soundtracks for both films. So with all that in mind I think Marshal O’Niel and the Con-Am 27 crew got dealt a better deal than poor Ripley and the Nostromo crew.
One last thing, I’m a big fan of comics and graphic novels, just a few years ago I found out there’s a comic book collection of the works created by artist Jim Steranko. Originally extract parts featured in Heavy Metal Magazine. Hopefully one day I can get my grubby hands on the book of collected works but at such time I believe it’s only been collected with French text. I’ve tried tracking down an English version to no avail, if you have any info on this having/getting a reissue please let me know.
As you can probably tell I love this film so very fondly and look forward to returning back to Earth from IO on my six year trip, so I can put my feet up and watch it all over again when I return. In the meantime if you fancy another take on the film, fellow movie and sci-fi geek Mr Bobinsky Indiescifi451 has a great post about it too.
Thanks for popping on by for a look, it’s much appreciated. Does Outland recall good memories for you?, maybe it’s the first time you have seen it or maybe it’s sparked an urge to rewatch it. Let me know if you want to……….. All the best… Mikey The Wolf