Saturn 3

By the time he produced “Saturn 3,” Sir Lew Grade had become known as Sir Low Grade. What started off as great aspirations quickly became financial and critical embarrassments at the box office. “Saturn 3” was an attempt to duplicate the success of recent Sci-Fi efforts like “Alien,” “Logan’s Run” and “Star Wars.” Instead, “Saturn 3” emerged as a dubious biblical parable about the Garden of Eden.


saturn2You know a film is in trouble when Farrah Fawcett is listed over Kirk Douglas in the credits. I assume she was popular at the time, but this is ridiculous. So is the film, which deals with a couple named Adam (Douglas) and Alex (Fawcett), two scientists trying to solve Earth’s food shortage in a laboratory beneath the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

Their idyllic lifestyle is interrupted by the arrival of company man Captain James (Harvey Keitel), who has come to see how things are progressing and report back. Unfortunately, James isn’t who he says he is. He’s actually a psychopath who has killed the real James, and with the help of his killer robot Hector, plans on killing Adam and take Alex for himself.

What transpires is an endless series of non-eventful chases through the same old corridors. The film is shamelessly cheap, with cheesy matte paintings and unconvincing model work. The screenplay by Martin Amis is serviceable at best, and no help to the actors, who seem lost and abandoned most of the time. Fawcett is absolutely awful, and almost as an apology flashes some boob to compensate. Not enough. Douglas seems convinced he’s in a much better movie, while Keitel is laughable at best. The set pieces are pedestrian, while the suspense is negligible.

The really sad part is that the film was directed by the brilliant Stanley Donen, who obviously didn’t put his heart into the film. Nothing in the film suggests that Donen was behind the camera. Elmer Bernstein’s music is so ham-handed you actually think you’re watching a comedy.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: [ ] 20/20 [ X ] Good [ ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

Nothing to write home about. Standard issue full-frame effort with some noticeable wear and tear on the original negative. Images are decent but not extremely sharp, and depth of field is negligible. Flesh tones are okay, and so are the blacks, but the overall look is flat and uninteresting. Some color flare during the exterior scenes, but no noticeable compression artifacts or flecking.

HEARING: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

Except for a small hiss in the rear speakers, I was amazed at the intensity of the soundtrack, which is delivered in Dolby Digital Stereo. Good dialogue mix and engaging stereo effects. Basses are strong, and the rest of the sound field sounds clean, but the rear speakers seem to hiss when all of the action moves to the front.

ORAL: [ ] Excellent [ ] Good [ X ] Poor

No closed captions or subtitles.

COORDINATION: [ ] Excellent [ ] Good [ X ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

Standard issue main menu (which also serves as the scene index) and the film’s original trailer.

PROGNOSIS: [ ] Excellent [ ] Fit [ X ] Will Live [ ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

Rent, but only if you want to freeze frame Farrah Fawcett’s nude scene (it actually looks sharper on DVD than it did when they reprinted the frame in Playboy 20 years ago).

VITALS: $24.98/Rated R/90 Minutes/Color/17 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#69903

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: SATURN 3

BIRTH DATE: 1979

HMO: Pioneer



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