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  Shape of Things to Come, The Star BoresBuy this film here.
Year: 1979
Director: George McCowan
Stars: Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Barry Morse, Nicholas Campbell, Anne-Marie Martin, John Ireland, Greg Swanson, Mark Parr, William Hutt, Ardon Bess
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the distant future and planet Earth has been devastated by the Robot Wars. The survivors now live under a huge, protective dome on the Moon, but there is a threat headed their way, sent from the faraway planet Delta 3, which is where the vital anti-radiation drug Radic-Q-2 is harvested. That threat is a huge spaceship, piloted by a robot programmed to send it on a collision course with the dome. Dr Cabal (Barry Morse) recommends that the high performance spaceship Starstreaker be sent to combat it, but the leading Senator (John Ireland) of the colony disagrees. And then - it's too late as the ship smashes through the dome...

Star Wars had a lot to answer for. About this time, 1979 and a few years after, all those projects designed to cash in on the success of the blockbuster had been completed and were released to an unsuspecting public, so Disney gave us The Black Hole, the Italians gave us Starcrash, Roger Corman offered Battle Beyond the Stars and the Canadians, or more specifically producer Harry Alan Towers, had this to entertain us. Or not, as the case may have been, because what we had here was a film that made Saturday morning cartoons look like equivalents of richly plotted literature.

In fact, it may have worked better as an animated feature. Written by Martin Lager, and he may have been drinking his namesake while scripting this, it proudly proclaims itself to be H.G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come, when the truth is that this has the barest minimum to do with the original nineteen thirties classic. A better title would have been H.G. Wells Had Nothing to do with This Film, or H.G. Wells Is Spinning in his Grave, for this is space opera devoid of any useful ideas or impressive inspiration, despite Cabal spouting guff about the limits of space being the limits of Mankind's imagination.

The film may feature a small collection of name actors, and they're not only obviously slumming, but they're not even the real stars. That distinction goes to Nicholas Campbell as Jason, Cabal's son, and Anne-Marie Martin under the name Eddie Benton as Kim, the Senator's daughter, although don't expect anything as interesting as a romance to strike up between them. It is Kim who reprograms the suicide bomber robot and Christens it Sparks, due to its habit of letting off minor explosions and not down to its musical proficiency, and it's Jason who pilots the Starstreaker under his father's orders.

Another thing you may be expecting is a good old-fashioned space battle, but as there's only three spacecraft (well, two models with one used twice) and they never fire a shot, you'll be let down badly. Every plot development is a needless diversion, from a visit to Earth (which looks remarkably healthy considering) to a trip through a light show that causes the camera to shake. What we really want to see is more of the baddie, An - sorry, Omus, played by Jack Palance, but he's hardly in it. The robots have all the grace and manoeuverability of wheelie bins, the effects are as basic as they could afford, and Paul Hoffert's music is quasi-inspirational disco sludge. If this sounds like a laugh riot, it's not, it's merely tiresome - a little intentionally camp humour might have helped, but you'll just have to provide your own.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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