TRAPPED IN SPACE
Jack Wagner, Jack Coleman, Craig Wasson, Sigrid Thornton, Kay Lenz
1993, 87 Minutes, Directed by: Arthur Allan Seidelman
An asteroid hits a spaceship halfway from Earth to Venus. This accident leaves much of the
spaceships oxygen supply depleted there wont be enough oxygen for the
entire crew of six to make the journey, after a certain point in time, there will only be
enough oxygen for three of them. After a rookies bungled attempt to fix the oxygen
supply, more oxygen are lost. Now there will only be enough oxygen for one person to make
If the plot seems vaguely familiar to you, its probably because Trapped In
Space is based on a short story called "Breaking Strain" by sci-fi legend
Arthur C. Clarke. The original story only had two astronauts distrustful of each other
trapped in the spaceship; this made-for-television movie ups the ante by adding more
crewmembers. It is never quite explained why there are so many of them, because none of
them ever seem to do anything regarding the running of the ship.
Obviously Clarkes very short story needed some padding and we in the audience
soon finds ourselves in Shallow Grave/Treasure of the Sierra Madre territory
everybody is out to do in everybody else. But there isnt money or treasure at
stake just mere survival.
Clarke was of course involved with 2001: A
Space Odyssey and its sequel, 2010. Trapped In Space
is no 2001,
after all, its only a TV movie starring some actors from television shows such as Dynasty
(I didnt recognize one of them but then again, Im not into soaps). Trapped
In Space is a bit of a wasted opportunity considering its sources, one of the crew
members soon turn psycho and refuses to co-operate with the others and lurks around the
ship trying to kill all the others. None of this happened in the original short story, of
course, but Clarke wrote it way back in 1948 more gentle times than our own I
There are some huge plot holes not to mention that true to most modern sci-fi
movies there isnt much science in it. For starters, there is gravity aboard the ship
for some unexplained reason. For a film that depends on explaining the hostility of outer
space as a plot device it doesnt score many points.
Also, the asteroid that hit the
spaceship is big enough to have destroyed it, not just puncture a hole a hole in its hull.
(In the original short story it is about a centimeter in diameter!) And so on. Also, some
of the characters arent too likeable either. Literary purists might be interested to
know that in its denouement, Trapped In Space does remain reasonably true to its
source material. Taken on its own terms, i.e., it is only a TV movie, Trapped In Space makes for
"not bad" viewing. Wait for it to show on some late night channel.
By the way, Trapped In Space violates one of the
most hallowed American movie conventions. Hint? It involves a dog . . .
Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick: Based on a short story by Arthur C. Clarke
about astronauts on a mission running out of oxygen. Not brilliant by a long
shot, it's not that bad for a movie bearing that dreaded
"made-for-television" label . . .