Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saturn 3 (1980)

...aka: Helper, The
...aka: Saturn City

Directed by:
Stanley Donen

Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett (right after quitting Charlie's Angels) are a romantically inclined pair of research scientists at a space station on one of Saturn's moons who get more than they bargained for when they allow monotone baddie Harvey Keitel and his super-intelligent, high-tech android Hector on board. The 'bot has been programmed by its master to have the hots for Farrah and do anything to get her, which leads to a dead dog and an otherwise bloody retaliation. Despite having the luxury of riding the crest of sci-fi popularity generated by the first two STAR WARS films, the top-notch production work, some surprising bursts of violence and a little nudity, this was a big box office flop. It could have something to do with a high yuck factor watching Douglas and Fawcett (she 33, he the ripe old age of 64) pawing at each other in nausea inducing love scenes; but it's more likely the piss poor writing and acting. Farrah, naturally, is the worst offender of the bunch when it comes to cardboard "emoting," but Kirk also gives what might be his career worst performance, while Mr. Keitel was awkwardly dubbed by British actor Roy Dotrice. Martin Amis' horrendous screenplay, complete with quotable bad dialogue, eye-rolling attempts at humor and "borrowed" ideas from 2001, ALIEN, STAR WARS and just about every other popular film in the genre, is the pits. What makes it all even more appalling than your usual sci-fi misfire is that it features excellent sets and effects work; some of the best people in the business (including STAR WARS series vets) worked on this project. Original director John Barry was fired a few weeks into shooting and was replaced by Donen (SINGIN' IN THE RAIN), who certainly hit a career low point with this one. Donen also ended up passing away before its completion. Elmer Bernstein scored.


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