Space Station 76 (2014) – Review

Directed by Jack Plotnick
Written by Jennifer Elise Cox, Sam Pancake, Jack Plotnick, Kali Rocha, Michael Stoyanov
Starring Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Maria Coughlan, Jerry O’Connell.
A 1970s version of the future, where personalities and asteroids collide.
You can’t help but wonder that if Guardians Of The Galaxy hadn’t been released this year, Space Station 76 may have been remembered more fondly by more people. The Marvel behemoth has taken taken no prisoners this year, trampling rightly over most, employing alot of the same tropes that can be found here, not least the kitsch seventies soundtrack and the off-kilter comedy.

Certainly, Plotnick’s script is probably less commercially sophisticated and feels more subdued not to mention only likely to be truly appreciated by those that warm to pastiche and remember fondly the likes of Martin Landau when he was hurtling through space on Moonbase Alpha or even those with a continued soft spot for the likes of Silent Running, but nonetheless, there is some very admirable work throughout and on occasion, some real delights in the performances and attention to detail, often less obvious than you might expect in a project that is very often blatantly in your face about its sociological commentary.

Skimming liberally off the top of designs created for the likes of those mentioned above, Space Station 76 reeks of the good old days when science fiction was really finding its feet in mainstream entertainment, as Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon and Kubrick had already showed everyone, just a few short years before, what space epics really ought to be with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Keir Dullea’s appearance here, although brief, is almost certainly a nod to this most challenging and perplexing of Kubrick’s body of work.

Plotnick takes advantage of a more innocent, less clinical time when it was alright to smoke next to your baby without drawing gasps of derision and barely concealed indignant fury. There is political correctness gone awry here aplenty and you’re never too far from what could easily become the Stepford Wives in Space as the majority of the female inhabitants of the station76 seem to have little more to do than warp their children and wonder which nylon trousers suit ensemble to wear that day.

In this respect, Plotnick’s script is often funny in a way that you know you shouldn’t really laugh at, knowing that you know better these days. Nonetheless, the witless asides and seemingly innocent now unacceptable foibles are all the more satisfying purely due to the devilment of the writing and the sneaky undercurrent of social timewarp terrorism lurking beneath almost every scene.

By the conclusion, the cast have wring out pretty much everything you’re going to get from them, due to admittedly unchallenging, though still enjoyable, script. There is joy, sarcasm and irony in abundance and with the acting talent making up for the shortfall in budget and cinematography, this does quite well in entertaining throughout. Yes, it is cheey, but purposely and effortlessly so, which makes it much more satisfying, not to mention downright impressive at times. A niche market will get the most from this  as mentioned, but many will come away cold, or maybe even bored.

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