STARRING: Dennis Hopper, Stephen Dorff, Debi Mazar, Charles Dance, George Wendt, Vernon Wells

1997, 97 Minutes, Directed by: Stuart Gordon

This independently made film is heartening and depressing at the same time. On the one hand it shows that really neat special effects can be done on a reasonably low budget (the film was made for $25 million - a low budget in an age in which The Fifth Element gets made for $90 million and is considered reasonably within budget). The special effects and sets in Space Truckers aren't bad at all and perhaps Kevin Costner should have had a word with the people who worked on it before he made the excessively expensive Waterworld.

On the other hand, the film is depressing because, well, to be frank, the story sucks! It concerns a group of space truckers who discover that their secret cargo is in fact hordes of deadly killer robots designed for a planned invasion of earth. Cheesy B-movie material, yes. But inherently there's nothing wrong with B-movie material. The problem is that the same material has been done with much more imagination in comic books than it is dealt with in Space Truckers. (I am reminded of an early Lobo comic written by Alan Grant which also featured country music listening space truckers, but whoever wrote the script for this movie ain't no Alan Grant.)

There're a few flashes of inventiveness and fun shining through in Space Truckers, but it never seems to pick up. The scene featuring the half-cyborg baddie wanting to bed the luscious heroine is perhaps a scene which will never have made it into a mainstream movie.

And this is where my problem with Space Truckers comes in. We expect independent filmmakers to do the kind of movies that mainstream Hollywood will never even dare to do. Compare Space Truckers with Carpenter's classic Dark Star - a much more subversive and oddball film made at a very low budget. We want Clerks instead of Mallrats. But like the latter movie, this one succumbed to the Dark Side of the Force and tries to imitate what is the worst in Hollywood. Depressing, really . . .


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