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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.66:1
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
Dark Star
Force Entertainment/Force Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 82 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Travelling the uncharted regions of the universe, the Advanced Exploration Corps starship Dark Star seeks out unstable planets, its mission to destroy each of them with a single artificially-intelligent thermostellar bomb, to pave the way for safe colonisation.

Having spent twenty years in space, with nineteen destroyed planets under their belt, the crew is as dilapidated as the ship. Having died in a freak accident, the ships captain Commander Powell is now stored in cryogenic hibernation, leaving the other four members of the crew to their own devices. Lieutenant Doolittle, fed up with space, wishes only to blow up planets in the hope that he can soon return home where he can once more surf the waves off Malibu. Sergeant Pinback, a fuel technician who was mistaken for an astronaut, has taken it upon himself to improve the lacklustre morale of the crew, much to their dismay. Corporal Talby, ship's astronomer, spends his time on the observation deck, staring out into space, hoping to see the Phoenix Asteroid. And finally, there's Corporal Boiler, who passes his time with old magazines, knife tricks or target practice with a laser rifle.

One malfunction too many places the crew in jeopardy when bomb #20 believes it has received an order to detonate and tries its best to complete its mission.

Originally a student film written by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China) and Dan O'Bannon (Alien, Blue Thunder, Total Recall) Dark Star never takes itself too seriously, and as a result has developed a loyal cult following. Despite the low budget and special effects, the film has aged well (except perhaps for the hairstyles ;).

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

Well this disc won't be winning any awards, at least not the good type of award at any rate. An image that is fairly consistently soft and riddled with film noise, the important thing to keep in mind is the original source - a student project filmed on 16mm stock over 25 years ago. Possibly the biggest problem is one of lighting - anything not adequately lit appears to be almost solid black, with little to no shadow detail. A bit of a pity we received a 1.66:1 Letterbox version, rather than the full 1.85:1 it was filmed as.

The audio, in Dolby Stereo, fares similarly to the video, with a noticeable amount of hiss during the quieter moments. Dialogue is clear, however, so you'll have no trouble following the story, nor will you miss any of the (at times cheesy) music pumped through the ship.

The only extra included on the disc was a theatrical trailer which is of similar quality to the main presentation.

While it may not be the best looking and sounding disc out there, Dark Star still comes through with an amusing story and provides a great example of what is possible with even the most modest of film budgets.

PS, keep an eye out for O'Bannon's precursor to the Alien. ;-)


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  •   And I quote...
    "More evidence that the inhabitants of the '70s shouldn't be allowed in space."
    - Andrew MacLennan
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-515
    • TV:
          Philips 29PT6361
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-2700
    • Speakers:
          Aaron ATS-5
    • Centre Speaker:
          Aaron CC-240
    • Surrounds:
          Aaron SS-120
    • Subwoofer:
          Aaron SUB-240
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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