Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.
I have a odd satisfaction in going back and watching movies released the year I was born. It’s like looking into a cultural time capsule from a time you were alive, but don’t remember. When I learned there was a Sean Connery helmed sci-fi film from 1981 I had never heard of before, I was ready to watch in gusto. Today’s film is Outland, from writer/director Peter Hyams.
I had never heard of this film before a couple of my favorite podcasts talked about it (Junkfood Cinema and 80s All Over), but it’s totally in my wheelhouse. It’s a police procedural/violent survival film set on a moon of Jupiter in space! I’m not sure how this one landed in my cinema blind spot, but I’d wager being released in the same era as the Star Wars and Aliens movies certainly didn’t help. Aesthetically it’s a direct interpretation of Ridley Scott’s blue collar sci-fi universe in Alien. My headcanon is that both films share the universe. This version of space is gritty, oil soaked, and populated with hard nosed, hard, working, and hard living folks.
Sean Connery is a space cop serving and protecting these blue collar folks, and something is amiss. At the mining station on the moon of Io the workers are dying in strange psychotic events. One thinks he is covered in spiders and opens his spacesuit, another walks into an airlock without a suit, and even more bizarre and gruesome incidents. Marshall William T. O’Neil (Connery) and thinks something is amiss. With the help of Dr. Lazarus (Frances Sternhagen), a jaded frontier doc O’Neil discoveres the administrator of the mining station is importing and selling a drug causing the psychotic episodes. O'Neil confronts the administrator and is put into conflict, with nobody by Dr. Lazarus to help him he must survive as a group of violent men are sent to kill him before the administrator is exposed for his crimes. The third act of the film is a gorgeous and chilling survival story where O’Neil isolates each vicious hitman and picks them off before they can kill him. The violent action takes us throughout and outside of the space station, leading to a very satisfying ending.
Visually this movie is stunning. The practical sets are amazing, and if you are a fan of miniature work in sci-fi this film is replete with some gorgeous work of the ships and space station. There is one particular scene in the final act that takes place in a gigantic space bound greenhouse that is a thing of pure beauty. The sets feel lived in, dirty, and real. You can almost smell the sanitized air and industrial stink of each location.
Connery works just fine as a gritty space cop, and you buy both his toughness and morality in every scene. But the real star performance of the film belongs to Frances Sternhagen. She is sharp, tough, and takes no shit from anyone. Every scene she is in is fantastic, and the back and forth quips with Connery are my favorite part of the movie.
Outland is a wonderful police procedural film set in space that becomes an awesome western in its final act. This smashing up of multiple genres works because you care about the main characters and want them to succeed. The world they are in is gritty, tough, and feels as real as anything set on earth, this one just happens to take place on Jupiter. I really enjoyed this and glad to discover a film that had completely escaped my knowledge of its existence.
Movies new to me watched: 22/292
Other movies: 7/73
Total movies watched: 29/365
Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kbdekker.