silent running. [movies in space #5]

Well, they can’t all be winners. This review has spoilers, so if you ever plan on watching this one you should look away.

The story of a guy who works on a space station designed to house forest ecosystems since there are no longer any trees and such on earth. The call comes from earth that orders the destruction of all the tree space stations. So, our guy goes rogue to save his forest from being nuked.

This movie is pretty awful.

The acting was terrible, which wasn’t helped by terrible writing. The dialogue was so bad that it felt like it was improvised by people who had merely a passing knowledge of the english language. No one involved in making this movie seemed to have much desire to pay attention to peripheral things like science, logic, or realistic human motivations.

The movie did have one thing going for it. There was a scene early on with literally the fattest squirrel I have ever seen. It was massively fat. His belly dragged on the ground when he ran. I’m not kidding, this was a fat fucking squirrel.

Bruce Dern’s performance is apparently praised by some, but in my opinion it was terrible. His attempts at playing intense and passionate came across as insane, unstable, and sulky. He didn’t ever feel like a hero saving something worthwhile, he felt more like an ecoterrorist bent on doing whatever he needs to do to save the trees without really ever sharing a compelling reason as to why. You’d think it would have been fairly simple to come up with compelling reasons for trees to exist… you’d think wrong. The best arguments he ever makes, check that, the only reasons he ever gives are that melons taste good, and it’s really sad for little girls to grow up in a world where they will never hold a leaf. Also, the events of the film make it impossible for the forest on his space freighter to ever go back to reforest earth, thus the killing and such that he does are done just to save the forest based on principle and an inability to let go, as opposed to any actual future good. He kills three men, and later himself, so that the forest will exist out in deep space, with no way to track or find it at a later date.

It also bothers me that when they designed the robots, no one seemed interested in something even remotely plausible. If you look at the way they operate, they use as much energy as possible, don’t function based on even a layman’s understanding of how computers or mechanics work (even a 1971 computer), and a very loose grasp of physics would make it clear that they would never be capable of completing any of the jobs they do in the movie. Couldn’t they have just asked a robotic engineer or two what robots might look like in the future? As industrial design goes, they get a great big F. Seriously though, I’d challenge you to come up with less efficient robots, and I bet you’d be hard pressed.

They also never explain why these man made eco-systems would exist in space. The only reason we have is that the story wouldn’t have worked otherwise. Why not build them in the desert? On the ocean? Under the ocean? Anywhere cheaper than outer fucking space? Meh. Also, no reason is given as to why they suddenly decide to destroy the forests.

I could keep going on for a while about dumb shit in this movie, but I’ve made my point, so let that be enough.