(nl) wrote: For as old as it is, the visuals are surprisingly stunning, Johnny Depp and Benico Del Toro are both odd and funny in this acid trip of a movie. Cameos by Toby Maguire and Gary Busey are downright hilarious, but the plot is a incoherent mess. I suppose that's appropriate, considering the state the two leads are in for most of the film though. Hard to follow but undeniably funny and odd in a good way, Fear and Loathing is a good time watching.
(it) wrote: In the mid 22nd century, mankind has reached a point in technological advancement that enables colonization of the far reaches of the universe. Armed with artificially intelligent "Thermostellar Triggering Devices", the scout ship "Dark Star" and its crew have been alone in space for twenty years on a mission to destroy "unstable planets" which might threaten future colonization of other planets. The ship's crew consists of Lt. Doolittle (helmsman, and initially, second-in-command), Sgt. Pinback (bombardier), Cpl. Boiler (navigator), and Talby (target specialist). "Dark Star" Commander Powell was killed during hyperdrive as a result of an electrical short behind his rear seat panel, but remains onboard ship in a state of cryogenic suspension. The crew performs their jobs with abject boredom, as the tedium of their tasks over 20 years has driven them "around the bend." The "Dark Star" ship is in a constant state of deterioration and frequent system malfunctions (for example, a radiation leak which is not repairable, their cargo of intelligent talking bombs lowering from their bomb bay without a command to do so, an explosion destroying their sleeping quarters, the food processing computer repeatedly serving chicken-flavored liquid meals, and a storage bay "self destructing" and destroying the ship's entire supply of toilet paper), and only the soft-spoken female voice of the ship's computer for company. They have created distractions for themselves: Doolittle, formerly a surfer from Malibu, California, has constructed a musical bottle organ; Talby spends his time in the ship's observation dome, content to watch the universe go by; Boiler obsessively trims his moustache, enjoys smoking cigars, and shoots targets with the ship's emergency laser rifle in a corridor; while Pinback plays practical jokes on the crew members, maintains a video diary, and has adopted a ship's mascot in the form of a mischievous "beachball"-like alien who refuses to stay in a storage room, forcing Pinback to chase it around the ship. With regard to Pinback, he may not actually be "Sgt. Pinback" at all; in his video diary, he states he is liquid fuel specialist Bill Froug, who inadvertently took the "real" Sgt. Pinback's place on the mission. It is unclear, however, whether or not this is a paranoid illusory fiction Sgt Pinback has created, due to his prolonged time working in deep space. En route to their next target (the Veil Nebula), the "Dark Star" is hit by a bolt of electromagnetic energy during a storm, resulting in yet another on-board malfunction, with "Thermostellar Bomb #20" receiving an order to deploy. With some difficulty, the ship's computer convinces Bomb #20 that the order was in error, and persuades the bomb to disarm itself and return to the bomb bay. Talby notes the malfunction, and decides to investigate the fault (to the complete disinterest of his crew mates), and discovers a damaged communications laser in the emergency airlock while the crew is engaging their next bombing run. While attempting to repair it the laser malfunctions, blinding Talby and knocking him unconscious, inadvertently triggering a more serious problem, causing extensive damage to the ship's main computer, and damaging the bomb release mechanism on Bomb #20. The crew suddenly need to reason with the bomb or it will destroy the Dark Star and everybody on it...John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannons 1974 film debut "Dark Star" can be considered a black comedy although it was marketed as a serious science fiction film. As a result, most of the cinema-going audience did not expect the humor and Dark Star's reception suffered from not reaching the intended audience. However, the home video cassette revolution of the early 1980s saw Dark Star become a cult film among sci-fi fans. Rotten Tomatoes said: "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." Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, writing: "Dark Star is one of the damnedest science fiction movies I've ever seen, a berserk combination of space opera, intelligent bombs, and beach balls from other worlds." Leonard Maltin awarded the film two and a half stars, describing it as "enjoyable for sci-fi fans and surfers"; he also compliments the effective use of the limited budget. And said limited budget shows of course from all angles when seeing this film in 2015, but yes theres some charm to this hippie space comedy and I do like the quirkiness of talking bombs and strange aliens that tickles the crew. Its cheap, slightly weird and funny, psychedelic, campy, and yet a bit so so in my book, but the plot is there and I think that an updated version with the same script and all the current effects/bang for your bucks might have been an interesting project.