Outland - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Outland Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ April 20, 2017
Well there's no real mistaking what Peter Hyams set out to do with this movie. From the opening credits and score its pretty clear that Hyams had been heavily influenced by a certain Ridley Scott sci-fi horror. Yet despite that the story is actually a western set in space, heavily influenced by the classic 1952 cowboy movie 'High Noon'. In all honesty this film feels more like an adaptation (to a degree) of the Gary Cooper classic, but either way you look at it, there isn't too much originality going on here Mr Hyams.

The plot sees Federal Marshal William O'Niel (Sean Connery) starting his new tour of duty based on the Jovian moon Io. O'Niel polices a harsh titanium ore mining outpost on the moon. The conditions are tough, its bleak, O'Niel is away from his family and things are about to get even more uncomfortable for the marshal. When several miners appear to suffer from nervous breakdowns or massive fatigue due to 'burning out', O'Niel is told its all part and parcel of the job. General manager Sheppard (Peter Boyle) claims productivity has broken records since he took over, the shifts are long but the rewards are big. So the odd miner going nuts maybe isn't anything to be too concerned over. However, O'Niel is not convinced and decides to dig a little deeper with the help of medic Dr. Lazarus (Frances Sternhagen).

So its not really much of a surprise that this movie does indeed look like Ridley Scott's masterpiece 'Alien'. Hymas did in fact hire a few people that worked on the 1979 horror sci-fi, set decorator Stuart Rose, costume designer John Mollo and model maker Martin Bower. And boy did Hymas get what he wanted, instantly you can see the similarities between both movies with the industrial looking sets and very workman-like outfits of all the various crews. In all honesty this movie could almost be set in the same timeline as 'Alien' from a visual standpoint, it blends in so well. Now originality issues aside, this isn't a bad thing, far from it, 'Outland' looks terrific with its bleak, dark, steamy, claustrophobic visage. That entire 'blue collar workers/space truckers' in space angle is captured perfectly.

Set wise you could say its like watching an entire movie set on the Nostromo (again). While this mining facility hasn't quite got the same kind of scope or detail you can see the influences and it does work effectively. Personal quarters have a very metallic, industrial vibe with that familiar futuristic looking padding effect on the walls. There are lots of control panels with monitors and various lighting effects strewn around, large solid steel doors, brightly lit warning signs, lots of steel grating, minimalistic white coloured eating/kitchen areas etc...At the same time other sections of the facility are more dimly lit and more technical, walkways have a hint of '2001' about them with bright white lighting and being hexagon in shape. And of course there's the canteen or bar for the miners which is your stereotypical dimly lit, sleazy, smoky den of corruption complete with space strippers. The only thing missing would be skimpy plastic clothes and lots of neon.

The facility exterior is also very impressive but a bit shaky looking these days. Front projection (I think, might have been rear projection) was used for many exterior shots which are kinda obvious watching today unfortunately. That isn't to say they look bad, obvious but not bad, the colour tends to give it away. A combination of models, miniatures and sets were also incorporated which generally look pretty sweet but again obvious by today's standards. Various shots of the facility look very realistic and, ahem...'Alien'-esque with lots of tiny surface details, flashing warning lights and of course a very heavy industrial metallic appearance overall. The models are decent but do tend to remind me some models you might see in an episode of [i]Red Dwarf[/i]. Watching the actors spacewalk does unfortunately also look very much like they're walking on a set...very...slowly. Again the spacesuits that are worn seem to be heavily influenced by that Ridley Scott movie, OK lets not beat around the bush here they're virtually identical!

I feel the story does actually lose its impetus when the hired hitmen arrive to whack O'Niel (after he's discovered what's going on). Up to that point its very tense, very eerie, you're not sure how many guys will turn up, whether they'll be huge or maybe cyborgs or something. You get the classic moment when O'Niel walks into the space bar and asks for some help from the workers (ala 'High Noon'). Its here when the excitement really does start to mount because you know he ain't getting no help. But then it all goes down the pan when two very ordinary blokes turn up with shotguns, oh. Two! just two guys?? Surely you'd send a few more than that? Not only that but O'Niel could of taken them out the minute they stepped off the shuttle, the setup was perfect. Then when you start to think about it, there are plenty of ways in which O'Niel could have avoided these guys. Hiding in the packed space bar for starters, who cares about the patrons after they refused to help. But none of that really matters in the end because he kills them pretty quickly with ease. The facility interior simply offered up way too many options to jump and surprise the bad guys so you don't really feel the tension.

The score does help with the sequences of action and build up. Its not really musical but more...industrial (there's that word again). I really don't wanna keep mentioning that Ridley Scott film but there are so many similar aspects here its impossible not too. But yes the score is very similar in tone to Scott's masterpiece, its offers the same kind of slow, haunting, emotional tunes that will feel familiar and are admittedly effective here.

But let me be clear here, this is not an action flick, there isn't loads of gunfire, fisticuffs and plosions (maybe a little fisticuffs). There are some nice subtle hints of gore, just the odd dark flash of blood 'n' guts when the odd miner bites the dust. The infamous exploding head sequences are now most amusing, yet when I was a kid they were as terrifying as the melting faces in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. Overall, and much like the musical score, this is a slow building, somewhat haunting, tense affair that is telling a very straight forward story with few fancy thrills. Its your standard heroic cowboy movie with a space backdrop. Sean Connery gives a good solid performance as the 'sheriff' as it were, who rolls into town and must clean it up. The difference here being Connery's character isn't gruff and butch as you might expect, but actually more quiet, calm, sensitive, a slightly broken man who pines for his family.

'Outland' isn't a classic movie, its not gonna be in most people's top ten sci-fi movies, in fact I'd say its generally forgotten these days. Alas its very familiar tones will turn some folk off I'm sure, simply brushing it aside as a rip-off, which I would understand. All I can say is I highly recommend the film to anyone who hasn't seen it and to anyone who hasn't seen it in a long time. Its a very simple but effective film that showcases nicely grounded, dark science fiction.
½ January 8, 2017
Underrated and well acted.
December 19, 2016
O filme certamente não é uma obra-prima, mas cumpre sua função em divertir em um domingo à tarde. A trilha sonora de Jerry Goldsmith assim como sua ambientação futurista nostalgica do início dos anos 80 (com ainda muita influência dos 70) dão um charme ainda maior à película neste século em que vivemos. E por fim, é com o Sean Connery, só por isso já é altamente recomendado!
September 17, 2016
This is one of those films that isn't brilliant, but one that I've always loved. The film is essentially a western set in outer space, with the great Sean Connery as the sheriff on a distant space station. Connery uncovers a drug smuggling ring and finds himself as the lone man, "High Noon" Will Kane style, willing to take on the corrupt officials behind the ring. Written and directed by the underrated Peter Hyams (who this time didn't also do his own photography). The film is exciting, has a decent mystery, and Connery is great as always. And there is also a very cool Jerry Goldsmith score.
½ August 31, 2016
Feels like an offshoot of Alien, the influence is apparent. As such it's a pretty good space western, with a great lead character.
May 8, 2016
I don't know why this movie got so bad reviews, I think it's a cool space crime story, thrilling and simple at the same time. Yes, maybe it's not the best sci-fi movie out there, but still it's a VERY enjoyable movie, both for lovers of hard sci-fi and for lovers of crime stories and thrillers. I still can remember how I felt when I saw it years ago: a lot of tension and was not sure the protagonist would get through the mess or die trying.
April 10, 2016
A crime thriller in the space, with some good moments
February 18, 2016
Outland is about a mining colony on the moon of Jupiter where Sean Connery is the head of law enforcement. As the film progresses a number of people start to go crazy and kill themselves which leads Connery to discover a drug smuggling operation that he vows to stop. Then the climax becomes one big homage to High Noon. Sean Connery is great as always, which means I get invested in his journey right away. The problem with the casting is that they have a couple of actors that have since become well known for comedy roles so it is difficult for me to take people like Peter Boyle and John Ratzenberger seriously. But that's a minor distraction from an otherwise strong cast, including a great over-the-top performance from Steven Berkoff. The climax is actually handled better than High Noon. I liked the quick build-up and limited scenes of Connery asking for help and then planning his strategy for when the hit men would arrive. Also when he starts to take on these guys his technique surprised me, so I was excited through that whole sequence. There were a few problems with the execution though. First of all, one decompression with exploding head is enough for an entire film in my opinion, but this one has about five. A little more variety in the way people are dispatched would keep the audience guessing more. The next couple of points would be considered spoilers:

Also, they telegraphed their moves a little too much, particularly when Connery is betrayed by his fellow officer. Finally, upon reflection, I can't stop thinking about the fact that Sean Connery leaving at the end means he didn't really resolve anything. All he did was risk his life stopping one attack from the corporations drug suppliers. By him leaving he has now left the door open for the drug trade to start up all over again. It's almost like they were so committed to drawing comparisons to High Noon that they didn't think about how him riding off into the sunset with his wife ruins the end of this film. My problems with the film don't quite outweigh the things I liked, but I still have a hard time making a strong recommendation for Outland. If you like sci-fi and Sean Connery then give it a shot, but otherwise I'd say you probably should avoid it.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2016
High Noon in space, with a look and feel that is clearly influenced of the massive success of Alien shortly before it. The film did not age as well, but still works as a slowly building thriller with a convincing leading man.
½ January 13, 2016
high noon" given a sci-fi twist
November 30, 2015
This is an enjoyable movie, it has all the aspects of a stuff your face full of popcorn and soda. However if you take the time to actually get into it beyond the action scenes you'll find it has a lot to be looked into from the corporate money interests who will use the workers in whatever manner they choose to make a profit. To the way the workers on the facility don't seem to care one way or another that they are being used so long as they are not themselve affected. Even the main characters have the look of people who have been there, done that and bought the t-shirt and are once again going back into do it again. There is a wonderful degree of world weary cynicism in this movie that make it a delight from other sci-fi movies. Also it is dirty not clean like some of the more modern sci-fi movies. Hell, Outland makes Star Wars look antiseptic in how machinery and craft are taken care of; this movie is a delight and I am glad to own it.
September 13, 2015
Decent High Noon Remake In Outer Space. Connery is always
watchable!
½ August 12, 2015
Like the reviews say, It's High Noon in Space. I think this movie is underrated.
July 20, 2015
A solid effort from Peter Hyams. A good western in space. Fun, engaging and well acted.
April 14, 2015
A space western with Sean Connery and its visual effects are good despite being a 34 year old film.
April 10, 2015
Connery drags this movie from never mind to watchable popcorn flick....sort of a futuristic Marshall Dillon.
½ January 18, 2015
Sean connery un sheriff espacial, intrépido sci-fi
October 26, 2014
It was Ok. Sean Connery is good as usual but the rest aren't that amazing. Storyline could have been better.
Super Reviewer
October 10, 2014
Update the classic High Noon, say, set it in space, cast uber-charismatic Sean Connery as the lead, and lose all that time wasting moral implication stuff = well, two out of three ain't bad. Who knew that all that moral stuff was actually the heart of the piece, and not the action???
And w/o those important considerations, the piece just ain't got the legs.
It does have Sean Connery though.
October 7, 2014
Not sure if a western translates to space that well. Why was he just waiting around for them to come kill him? Why would no-one help him? Why not just ambush the killers as they arrived? Why not contact someone about what was happening? he seemed to have load of evidence.
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