Sean’s Sci-Fi Sheriff Solves Space Skulduggery…
A Federal Marshall investigates the reasons for mysterious deaths at a mining factory.
Outland (1981) Official Trailer – Sean Connery, Peter Boyle Sci-Fi Movie HD, Movieclips Trailer Vault and photos by Warner Bros. Pictures
As an expat, I crave hearing my native accent especially here being one of two people I know of with Scottish accents in this wee Finnish town. Luckily I am married to the other. The yearly rerun of James Bond movies also helps, as one particular Bond’s familiar tones remind you of the heather, the hills and the haggis suppers you’re missing, actor Sean Connery.
Connery as we all know is renowned for never swaying from his Scottish accent no matter who he is playing, be it as an Irishman in The Untouchables (1987). Or even as a Lithuanian in Hunt for Red October (1990) or a Spaniard in Highlander (1986). Luckily darlin’ husband does a perfect Connery impression, which is both fantastic – in that he can say anything you request – and frustrating as if he does it in a different room you expect Connery to materialise.
Today’s review is Connery’s film Outland (1981) which is set in space and its title should not be confused with anything to do with Outlander (2014-) which is set in Scotland. Unless there is a twist for the latter I haven’t heard of yet. The only thing they have in common is a gorgeous Scottish male lead with Connery in the former and Sam Heughan in the latter. So onto the review.
The written font used in the movie’s credits is a nice wee reminder of the early eighties. Outland is set on the planet Io, where Federal Marshal William O’Niel (Connery) lives with his wife and son. The story set at the planet’s titanium mining company. The model used to represent the mines did make me think of a Thunderbirds bad guy base. So, I could almost see it being recreated lovingly by the child fans of the Blue Peter (1958-) audience and their dads as Tracy Island was made by many a fan in 1993.
At the beginning of the film, one worker appears to see non-existent spiders and he takes off their space helmet leading to their head exploding eighties style. Another dies in a similar manner. O’Niel (Connery) investigates these worker’s mysterious deaths, speaking with their boss, Mark Sheppard (Peter Boyle) about this as Sheppard plays golf in a virtual reality type game. O’Niel even managed to throw in a golf tip when he gives a tip to Sheppard as he plays what looks like golf Tiger Woods style.
This remembered as at a time when lame golf computer games were parodied by TVs South Park (1997-). Must admit I did wonder if Connery ad-libbed this line. Despite the deaths at his company, Sheppard is claiming his business is performing extremely well, despite the difficult conditions on the planet such as the poor oxygen level. During his investigation, another worker appears to go psychotic and hallucinates and is shot by O’Niel’s deputy.
Around this time, O’Niel’s wife leaves him as she plans to return to earth with their son and leaves him a video message Dear John style. She hopes he will join her and her son on a booked shuttle back to earth. This woman appeared three times to give him ultimatums to meet her using big doe eyes and using her son and a booked trip back home to this end too to entice him to follow her. Or maybe I’m just sceptical. O’Niel instead of throwing a shoe or shooting the screen as she talked to him about this via video message, looked almost tearful. Wee poppet.
O’Niel speaks with the company’s doctor, Dr Lazarus (Frances Sternhagen) about these deaths, and as the other predominant female character was contrastingly a much more likeable character. Lazarus assisted him to find the truth behind the killings, had a fun no-nonsense attitude and did not become a love interest which was a nice change. But after meeting the wife, thought otherwise. Together, O’Niel and Lazarus discover both deaths are related to high levels of amphetamine which leads to increased activity followed by a later psychosis…
The special effects were amazing for the time and much more effective than as much more believable. However, the best thing about the movie was that it reminded me of a Western film set in space. Little touches such as the mining company setting, the Federal Marshall with his sheriff’s badge on his uniform – and sports gear as he plays squash in space (and why not) -, the swinging of double doors, the help of the local doctor, the strip bar and the prostitutes used by workers all contributed towards this theme. It was subtly effective.
It was no surprise to learn that this was to have been the original genre for the movie but changed due to the popularity of the sci-fi films of this time such as Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982). Connery gave the solid dependable acting performance along with the now compulsory Scottish accent he’s renowned for. However, director and writer Peter Hyams almost exploited Connery’s distinctive use of the letter S in many Scottish Sayings thus inspiring the film inspired tongue twister “Scottish Sheriff Sean solves space shenanigans spectacularly”. So if you can say it you’re a star, if you can say it in a Scottish accent you’re Sean Connery…
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10