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This film has one of the best production designs ever.Phillip Harrison did a superb job. Obviously the look was copped from Alien--blue collar workers in space--but it works remarkably well. I was often reminded of OUTLAND during my seven year prison term; the housing was remarkably similar--as was the company. But I digress...
Nothing special about the plot-- it's routine cop show or western movie stuff--but who cares? Sean Connery gives a splendid performance and the whole film moves at a nice clip. Very enjoyable.
***WARNING! POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!***
'Outland' is set on Io, one of Jupiter's moons, in a mining colony. Marshal W.T. O'Niel (Connery) is assigned to the moon colony. Shortly after he arrives he discovers that several miners have been committing suicide in bizarre and ugly ways, such as walking into zero-atmosphere minus a pressure suit. When he investigates he finds that the dead men have been taking an amphetamine-like drug. According to Dr. Lazarus (Frances Sternhagen) the drug enables the miners to go for days without sleep and work at extended intervals, thereby increasing the mine's productivity. When O'Niel follows the dealers' trail he discovers that it leads to the head of the mining operation. These men have no intention of letting O'Niel stop their dirty work, and now the marshal has to watch his back at every turn, as a hit contract is put out on his head. O'Niel also finds that his own men are willing to turn on him...
***END SPOILER ALERT***
Like someone else mentioned, the production design does not show space as a shiny, clean environment - space is 'dirty' here. The mining colony looks like a real operation, in a similar way to the way the Nostromo appeared in 'Alien'. Jerry Goldsmith's music also sounds much like the low, sinister tones of 'Alien' which he had written only 2 years before. While it lacks most of the spectacular effects of the 'Star Wars' trilogy it gives a believable sense of the awesome size of space. The story is not unlike a western set in outer space, only that the crime the marshal is trying to stop is drug-dealing as opposed to train or stagecoach robbery. Not a bad movie, not on the scale of 'Star Wars' or 'Alien' but definitely worth looking into.
For one thing Gary Cooper is a newlywed in High Noon, Sean Connery is a married man with a 12 year old son. His wife however wants him to give up the futuristic law enforcement business, but it's what he knows and because he's such an independent minded fellow who speaks his mind he gets one garbage assignment after another.
Here he's on a mining colony on the Jupiter satellite Io. It's a frontier town, not unlike some in the west. But Hadleyburg in High Noon is passed the wild and woolly frontier days and the impending gunfight is not wanted because it will bring those days back. Gary Cooper dealt with ingratitude, what Connery is dealing with on Io is systemic corruption.
The boss of the place is Peter Boyle the head of mining operations. One of the things he provides are illegal synthetic narcotics which make the men work like mules and increase his productivity. They also eventually fry your brain and you turn paranoid.
Connery notices several suspicious deaths have occurred in the past two years after he's had to deal with some miners who've gone haywire. The presence of narcotics is confirmed by station doctor Frances Sternhagen during an autopsy.
When Boyle's confronted with this, bribery doesn't work so he puts out a contract on Connery. His deputies are all on the pad and the miners won't help either. His one friend in the place is Sternhagen.
In fact acting honors in Outland go to Frances Sternhagen as the tough old bird of a doctor who's also in a kind of exile on Io.
Outland has good special effects and the mining colony on Io is marvelously created with the use of miniatures, much like the Himalayas were in Black Narcissus. But it is better known for a good story and some fine acting by all, especially Sternhagen. It's one of Sean Connery's better films and shouldn't be missed by science fiction fans or Sean Connery's many fans.
So what if it took a few bites out of High Noon.
I totally agree with OP Voutilainen, who wrote a very good comment on this movie on 24 October 2001.
The movie is never superficial if you look at its characters: The bad are not simply bad but realistically brutal. The good are not simply heroic, they rather strive to survive and struggle to keep what's left of their personal dignity and values after the school of life.
People of the future will possibly wonder why anyone ever liked such a "normal life"-movie. The answer is: Simply because of the everyday life dignity that people emanate in the movie.
Really a great positive movie !
A particular rendition of ¨High noon¨ set in outer space on a volcanic moon of Jupiter , stars Sean Connery alone versus a planet-wide drug ring . In fact , this one is no more or less than a Western in space , replacing Gary Cooper by Sean Connery . This enjoyable Sci-Fi is plenty of suspense as the dreaded noon hour approaches and the protagonist realizes he must stand alone , but asking his base fellows for help , nobody is willing to help him . An agreeable Science Fiction movie full of emotional thrills , action and suspense , though the science is rather poor . It is a highly mysterious thriller , filled with non-stop action , including a spectacular denouement in its final part . The narration is adjusted in real time , from the beginning to arrival of the enemy aircraft , at a final showdown and it is approximately developed in ninety minutes as the many on-screen ticks clocks will check . It might make a catching double feature along with ¨High noon¨ . Connery is perfect as the flawed hero who faces off professional killers . He gives first-rate acting as a tough agent who takes on vicious hired killers , facing alone after being abandoned to his fate by the gutless population . Suppport cast is pretty well , giving brief but decent acting , such as : James B. Sikking , Steven Berkoff , Clarke Peters , John Ratzenberger , Angus MacInnes , Eugene Lipinski and Peter Boyle is just right as a heinous villain . And special mention for Frances Sternhagen as the veteran doctor who helps Connery , she steals the show , thanks to her sympathetic and valiant performance .
The motion picture contains an excellent cinematography by cameraman Stephen Goldblatt . Rousing and suspenseful musical score by the great Jerry Goldsmith , performed by London symphony orchestra . The yarn was compellingly directed by Peter Hyams . Peter is an uneven filmmaker who has directed all kinds of genres with successes and flops , such as Adventure : ¨Musketeer¨ ; Terror : ¨The relic¨, ¨End of days¨ ; Action : ¨The Presidio¨, ¨Sudden death¨, ¨Timecop¨ , ¨Narrow margin¨ ; Sci-fi : ¨2010 , the year we make contact¨ , ¨Capricorn one¨, ¨Sound and thunder ¨; Drama : ¨The star chamber¨, ¨Our time¨ ; and Comedy : Running scared¨, ¨Stay tuned¨
This a well paced film with a solid acting from Sean Connery. The pursuits, especialy the first in the corridors of the space habitat, are gripping. The film was made in 1981, when the CGI effects were not as prevalent as today. For exemple scenes where humans are dwarfed by huge metalic structures, were executed thanks to a then traditional play of mirrors. I have seen this film at the cinema when it played for the first time in 1981. I have recently watched it again on cable TV and I think it has not aged much. Because it is set on a makeshift sleazy outpost and not a shiny white place as too often in science fiction film, it remains realistic enough, twenty two years later. The themes,a bit overlooked, dangerous mind drugs, greedy multinational (or multi-planet, here) companies, the will and courage of one man against the cowardice of all the others, resonate still in our mind, nowadays. But make no mistake, it not a heavy political film but a good suspense and action film with a science fiction flavour.
Despite some scientific oddities like heads exploding and weightlessness in a zero pressure atmosphere, where as inside the habitat the gravity is normal (by Earth standards), the script remains coherent enough. The strong performance of Sean Connery is helped by those of a serious Peter Boyle and a pre-ER Frances Sternhagen. Rent this film on your local video store or watch it on TV, it is worth seeing it.
I can understand some of the comments about some of the movie's science, particularly in the way earth gravity suddenly appears inside buildings and the way people's cranial cavities literally expand like balloons when exposed to near zero pressure, but none of that is central. I'm pleased when I see real science in movies (maybe surprised would be a better term), but if I want science I can read a textbook. Anyway, this shortfall is more than made up for by having a doctor in the movie named Lazarus - over scientific accuracy I'll take a little humor. Or good dialogue, such as when O'Neil, having just chased a perp through half the installation, finally corners him in a kitchen, gets the drop on him, and leveling his shotgun at his desperate kitchen knife-wielding opponent says to him, 'Think it over'.
Comparisons have been made to other movies like High Noon and sf classics like Alien and 2001. I'll leave 2001 go at least until I can figure out how that giant fetus got out there in outer space, but as to Alien, well, in my view Outland compares quite well despite Alien's iconic status. Alien conveys all the niceness of a vat of sulfuric acid. What a bunch of dismal characters inhabited that movie. Outland has a different feel to it and portrays more than a few positive human characteristics (the interaction between O'Neil and his wife is quite affecting although, or maybe because, it takes place via a video screen). And as to this being a 'remake' of High Noon set in outer space, well, it really isn't. In fact there's only one aspect of the plot that is similar (the first half of Outland is a whodunit), though the device of periodically showing a clock to countdown when the bad guys will arrive is of course an obvious imitation. Someone else said that this movie is actually a 'western', and that's true if you mean a movie with a real hero who stands virtually alone despite the odds on the side of right vs. wrong (though he does get a little help especially from one particular rather brave woman). Basically though, this is just a very good movie that makes good use of and occasionally even exceeds the limits of its genre. It's got plenty of action and suspense and not a single dead spot. It's worth seeing.
Mood is just right,nothing looks too good.Mining community is dirty and dangerous,people are deceitful. Models and sets haven't really aged at all.They were once accurately made,and beat computer effects 6-0.
Connery acts well and Peter Boyle's role as a twisted manager fits him. All in this movie could well occur in the future,and this is the fact which makes it so enjoyable.I'll give 9/10
The miniatures and models look fantastic and still hold up today in my opinion. It inhabits that Alien mining operation look throughout and Peter Hyams did a great job on an aesthetic point of view. It's not as detailed as Alien, but what is?
The story is also pretty well written and many have labelled it as High Noon in space. It definitely has that western feeling especially with the showdown climax and your typical western pistols have been replaced with shotguns.
Sean Connery delivers a great performance and I would say this is one of his best post Bond films along with The Name of the Rose.
Despite these positives there are quite a few negatives. The explosive decompression scenes are quite dated and are unintentionally hilarious with peoples heads inflating like balloons. The child actor who plays Marshall O Neill's son is quite possibly the worst child actor ever! It takes you out of the movie for a while but thankfully it's only a brief scene.
If you haven't seen this I would recommend Outland, especially if you're a fan of Alien or any other industrial sci-fi movie from that era. It's quite overlooked so definitely give it a look.
Plot In A Paragraph: Marshall O'Neil (Connery) stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the people there, when he finds himself marked for death.
I still vividly remember watching this with my dad, the night he rented it on video. It was the first Connery movie I had watched since Diamonds Are Forever. As nothing he made in between that time interested either of my parents for them to rent the video or watch it on TV.
Essentially this is High Noon in space. A heavily tanned Connery is the new Marshal who does what a man must do. There are a number of parallels. Killers are on their way to kill the Marshal, who is abandoned abandoned by his deputies, and with none of the residents willing to stand by his side. As the arrival time approaches, Connery enters the cafeteria/saloon and speaks to the townspeople, repeating the classic Cooper line, "I could use a little help," receiving none. He must decide between fleeing and joining his wife and son, or staying and facing almost certain death.
Away from the parallels of High Noon, the plot here is an intriguing one, The miners were being given an illegal drug, which increased their output for 11 months and then drove them insane. Connery actually delivers a good performance, that seems to have been forgotten about by the masses, which is a shame as it still holds up today, and Connery does some great acting in a scene where he doesn't utter a line of dialogue, as he watches a video of his wife. Connery was not happy at this movie going over schedule, as he lost a major extended cameo role in Chariots of Fire due to it.
All in all, I find Outland to be an enjoyable movie, with good pacing and a good atmosphere, that I usually watch every couple of years.
Outland did fair business for a Connery non Bond movie grossing $17 million at the domestic box office. Slightly more than its $16 million budget.
Writer/director Peter Hyams creates a plausibly grim'n'grimy future where greed and profit take precedent over morality and human lives, expertly generates plenty of tension from the absorbing premise, maintains a steady quick pace throughout, and deftly stages one cracking corker of a rousing last third with two assassins arriving at Io with the specific intent of killing O'Niel. Connery effortlessly carries the picture with his considerable charismatic presence, receiving terrific support from Frances Sternhagen as a cranky, sarcastic doctor, Kila Markham as his fed-up, long-suffering wife, Peter Boyle as the blithely corrupt general manager, James B. Sikking as a cynical, wisecracking on the take deputy, and Steven Berkoff as a crazed miner who flips out. Jerry Goldsmith's beautifully moody and stirring score, the first-rate special effects (the miniatures in particular are amazing), Stephen Goldblatt's rough, grainy cinematography, and the grungy set design are all likewise uniformly fantastic. Moreover, the film earns bonus accolades for neatly avoiding certain tiresome clichés. For example, the villains never threaten to either kidnap or murder Connery's wife and son. In addition, Sternhagen comes to Connery's aid instead of the other way around. Intelligent, engrossing and above all exciting, "Outland" sizes up as one of the best and most shamefully underrated adult science fiction movies made in the early 80's.
There are some logistical gaps in Hyams' screenplay, and a fair amount of the dialogue is leaden, but Connery is both believable and sympathetic here, giving a finely tuned performance that encompasses the marshal's steadfast pursuit of justice as well as empathic scenes involving his wife and son, the former deciding that Io is no place to raise a kid early on. The pacing is set for suspense and the story keeps you interested. But the things that stick and make this worth checking out are the sets and special effects. "Outland" may not be a classic film but it's still entertaining and compelling.
Overall rating: 7 out of 10.
I like the design of the camp which reminds me of 'Alien'. I like the gritty underbelly feel of this realistic future world. It moves a bit slow at times which is its biggest problem. This is a sci-fi western compared most notably to 'High Noon'. This keeps getting compared to other movies but always comes up a little shorter. It's still a good movie.
"Outland" shines (or should I say 'pops') with the best of them. And it's a great film to boot. More of a western than a scifi--its story has been compared to "High Noon"--it might be light on spaceships and laser battles, but it's definitely heavy on mood and atmosphere. If you like tense, dark, claustrophobic mood films like "Alien", "Das Boot" or even the recent "Pandorum", this is worth checking out.
Sean Connery plays a great character, not quite the perfect hero as James Bond whom he had played a few years prior, but instead he plays a very human, fallible and slightly vulnerable (if not scared) character reminiscent of the great Jimmy Stewart or Gregory Peck in their roles as reluctant heroes. So don't expect Sean to clean house the way Schwarzenegger might. Here he's clearly outnumbered and outgunned which adds to the chills of this suspenseful story.
Director Peter Hyams was at the peak of his game. Films like this, "Capricorn One" and "2010", all filmed within a 7-year stretch, exhibit the same dark, heavy vibe perfect for science fiction. Again let me repeat, you won't get a ton of flashy action scenes, but what you will get is a thick, suspenseful mood.
If you like old school scifi like the films I've mentioned, or if you like westerns, or if you like moody thrillers, I think you'll like this. You might like it so much your head will explode. And then you too will be awesome.
presented in a good fashion in OUTLAND. Sean Connery stars as a
marshal (where the western category fits in) assigned to solve
mysterious deaths on a galactic mining company (sci-fi), along with meeting different and unique characters, some of which have sullen and suspicious dispostitions (the film-noir part). Connery is fine
as usual as the marshal who has his hands full trying to make sense of the whole situation, at the same time entertaining the audience with his typical great thespian skills.
However as the amount of suicides escalate O'niel senses there maybe foul play Involved. In his Investigation he gets the help of a medic on board the colony Dr. Lazarus played by Frances Sternhagen. Sternhagen is one of the best parts of the film. She adds a dry sarcastic wit to the film which makes watching her interactions with Connery's straight laced marshal a joy to watch.
On the other hand one of the weaker parts of the film features a drug investigation plot that didn't develop as far as I would of liked. There are no surprises, and it's over before Ii even has time to develop and build suspense. This plot element however brings O'niel into contact with Sheppard a union leader played by Peter Boyle. After a frosty encounter they share at the beginning of the film, he disappears for the best part of 45 minutes. His role was barely given any screen time to be fleshed out. Other then one scene where he tells O'niel the cycle of capitalism, he isn't given any memorable moments in the film.
Outland has been compared a lot to Fred Zinnemann's High Noon. Whilst it definitely feels like it's treading similar water when the film plays out it's third act. It does however have enough original elements for the first two acts for it too differentiate Itself. However the third act does start too fall flat as the film hits the similar beats of High Noon.
One of the best parts about the film without a doubt is the set design. It's one of the best representations of a future society I've seen In a Sci-Fi film. It still holds up remarkably well today. Peter Hyams and Philip Harrison give the colony a dilapidated, grimy, community that feels lived in. The station is a place that is constantly vibrant with average blue collar workers, that just so happens to be in space.
Whilst the film does suffer from an under-written villain, and an under- developed detective story. Outland is well paced and has strong direction. It's complimented by two strong performances. Both Connery and Sternhagen are well fleshed out and have distinct personalities. The unique environment that the characters inhabit is reason enough to watch this under-seen gem.
OUTLAND is the film that is forever known as being a HIGH NOON remake set in space which is somewhat disingenuous . It does mirror some of the plot turns of that Western where a man trying to enforce the law finds himself alone . Carl Foreman's Western screenplay has a rather explicit subtext that talks about Hollywood in the 1950s where by people found themselves abandoned by erstwhile friends because they might have had left leaning sympathies and didn't want to be accused by association .It was undoubtedly Hollywood's most shameful period but OUTLAND doesn't feel it's trying to ape that film and if there's a subtext to this film it's that drugs are bad
On its own terms there's a lot to admire about OUTLAND . Connery gives one of his better and more commercial performances as tough and noble marshal O'Neill , a tough guy but at heart a family man whose wife and son feel the stress of the job . The film also benefits from some great set design which is both very convincing and functional without appearing too futuristic . You can honestly believe this is a colony on a satellite of Jupiter where titanium ore is being mined
What the story differs suffer from slightly is that there are a couple of scenes where O'Neill knows who the bad guy is and the bad guy talks about his plan over video screens . Are we to take it that in this future world video monitors don't have recording facilities ? Likewise tough hit men referred to as " the best in the business " just happen to pull out and assemble guns in front of a video monitor which is very convenient for the plot . One also has to ask don't shuttle passengers get their baggage searched ?
Regardless of a few flaws OUTLAND is a gritty and entertaining science fiction space Western that stands on its own hind-legs which unfortunately gets compared to HIGH NOON a little bit too much for its own good