Dark Star


Dark Star

Critics Consensus

A loopy 2001 satire, Dark Star may not be the most consistent sci-fi comedy, but its portrayal of human eccentricity is a welcome addition to the genre.



Total Count: 24


Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,286
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Dark Star Photos

Movie Info

John Carpenter directed this wigged-out spoof of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film originally began as a 45-minute U.S.C. student film project by Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon that was eventually expanded into a feature length production. The sstory takes place on the deep-space cruiser Dark Star, where a crew of laid-back astronauts are assigned the task of blowing up planets with unsuitable life forms in order to make the universe safe for the human race. The leader is Commander Powell (Joe Sanders), who is cryogenically frozen after being killed in a freak accident. Next in line is Doolittle (Brian Narelle) who tries to keep the rest of the crew in check. However, there is a lot of down time between planetary explosions and the tediousness is starting to get to everyone. However, after a series of accidents, a smart bomb --i.e. a bomb that can talk and think on its own-- does not detach itself from the ship as planned and will explode within 24 minutes unless it can be cajoled into disarming itself.


Critic Reviews for Dark Star

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Dark Star

  • Aug 21, 2019
    Although most here at Rotten Tomatoes seem to like to note similarities between this and 2001: A Space Odyssey, it's truer to me to see that most of what Dan O'Bannon did with the rest of his career harkened back to this early labor of love completed with fellow cinema student John Carpenter. The crawling through creepy dark passageways after something, some animal maybe that's trying to kill you, like in Alien? He does it here first. The off-the-wall comedy that happens in the midst of terror like in Return of Living Dead? Does it here first. This then is ground zero for everything Dan O'Bannon. See where it all began.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 12, 2013
    This goofy, oddball, disjointed mess is a stellar debut for all involved thanks to some ingenious sequences (that drag themselves for a bit too long), nice timeless humor, great sound design and fantastic visuals given the super tiny budget.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer
  • Jun 03, 2012
    Director John Carpenter's first feature looks surprisingly good, considering its tiny budget. This deep-space comedy -- mostly a parody of "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- benefits from being contemporary to the many sci-fi classics released during the same glorious era. However, its story is rather thin. Two isolated sequences have a strong pull -- a countdown crisis involving a bomb that has been mistakenly triggered and an incident chasing an escaped, onboard alien that looks like a radioactive beach ball -- but most of the film's short length just follows four astronauts (one of them is Dan O'Bannon, who later helped write "Total Recall" and the "Alien" series) killing time during a years-long mission to destroy planets with unstable orbits. Their idle boredom (daydreaming about surfing, clipping their beards, building homemade instruments, etc.) is precisely the point, but this doesn't make "Dark Star" any more fun to sit through. The best ongoing gag is the passive-aggressive banter between the ship's HAL-like computer (this time, it's female) and a skeptical bomb who's tired of false starts. Trivia: Indie-rockers Pinback took their band name from O'Bannon's "Dark Star" character.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2011
    Basically one of the oddest, most mind-numbingly dull and poorly-produced movies I've ever seen. The final exchange between the bomb and one of the astronauts merits at least a grin or two, but other than that sole scene, "Dark Star" is eventless and hard to sit still through. John Carpenter is usually one to deliver when it comes to producing a quality cinematic experience, but this is not one of those times.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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