Stranded is Much more than the Typical SyFy!

Director Roger Christian won a shared Oscar back in 1978 for ‘Best Art Direction-Set Decoration’ in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Two years later, in another four person team he got a nomination by the Academy for the same work on the utterly brilliant Alien, proving that when it came to getting film sets in space movies just right, he was the man to see. However his directorial work hasn’t been as acclaimed as his artwork, but there have been signs of greatness showing through, with him getting a nod at the 1981 BAFTA’s for his short film, The Dollar Bottom. His 1994 film Nostradamus was arguably his best directorial movie but he had a brilliant cast to work with, making his job a whole lot easier. I would be failing in my duties if I were to forget to mention the movie that practically flushed his career down the toilet Battlefield Earth. The story behind the film is extremely interesting (put it this way, a movie about the making of the debacle that is Battlefield Earth would be infinitely better) but the film itself was garbage, with our director having too many masters, so couldn’t be held completely accountable for it. Roger Christian actually worked on the extremely funny Life of Brian was responsible for it looking as good as it did in back in 1979.

So, on to Stranded, and again, director Roger Christian has given us a film that looks pretty good and has (mostly) created a creepy atmospheric, aesthetically pleasing movie, put together for $1.9 million. Does it have it’s faults? indeed it does but first lets talk about the films better points. As you will no doubt know, it’s about a small lunar space station that has been bombarded by a small meteor shower causing loads of damage to various buildings but the crew’s main concern is with their supply of oxygen. The crew also discover some sort of microscopic life form in one of the recovered meteorites. A crew member is infected causing a clone to be born and now it’s on the rampage. The question is to what end?

What I enjoyed about this space horror was it’s accessibility. Anyone who enjoys a good horror, but not Sci-Fi can actually enjoy it as it doesn’t try to confuse or be too clever, just keeping everything simple yet effective. Christian Slater has not been getting (or choosing) decent roles of late, or even trying to be involved in big productions but taking very small parts, which would have helped him greatly in my opinion. He has become known for taking on very big parts in very small productions, and while I applaud him for doing so (Influx Magazine supports small production films), he should have at least read the script, and if he has been fully reading the scripts then I’m stumped, but it could just be strictly a financial matter.

The acting was good with some nice performances helping tell the tale of this giant nod to Alien in a reasonably scary and convincing manner. but for me, the best was from the steady Brendan Fehr (X Men: First Class) whose understated style was perfect for playing the doctor of the space station Lance Krauss. Christian Slater is a good actor as long as he only needs to play a slightly different version of himself, and while he has “one trick pony” written all over his resume, he was bound to ‘be’ the correct version eventually as he was her. The set design within the space station was pretty good and the director had the lighting just nice, helping create a good atmosphere. When we see any of the lunar buildings they aren’t all the realistic as they opted to use miniatures but with such a small budget there had to be concessions and it made no difference to the story. The “gore” was not convincing at all, with far too much blood being splashed about but again, nothing to do with how the story turned out therefore, while it would have been good to have had better effects, it didn’t matter all that much. The make up was brilliant considering the small budget, and was a good example of what can be achieved, even with limited resources.

Granted, it’s low budget status is obvious, but you need to look a bit deeper at this movie to take in the good parts, and good they are. Forget the cheap looking sets, or the iffy outside scenes, and instead see the bigger picture. It’s either that, or you simply wont get this movie.

Grade: C

Nav Qateel

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