• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Outerworld

TITLE: Outerworld

YEAR: 1987

GENRE: Science Fiction

AKA: Beyond The Rising Moon

Back in the early days of the video store there was a major surge of films that skipped the theaters and were directly distributed to VHS and laserdisc for home viewing. Most of these were slasher-style horror films or action crime films, but there was also a fair amount of low budget science fiction films that were introduced to fans via the Mom and Pop video stores. Most of these direct to video sci-fi films were downright terrible and  never saw a DVD release, but thanks to Netflix and smaller distribution companies some of the better yet almost forgotten relics have once again seen the light of day and have been rediscovered by older and younger fans alike. Outerworld was one of the better sci-fi films of this era and features a good script, interesting morals, and some amazing special effects considering the budget and time of release.

Pentan (played by Tracy Davis) is a cybernetic organism created by the Antigem Corporation to spy on competing corporations, steal business secrets, and even perform assassin-style work in the name of Antigem’s bottom line. Pentan has always performed well, but it is designed to resemble a beautiful woman that desires to know real human feelings, emotions, and most of all freedom from her employer. When Pentan decides not to give up the secrets from a recent job about alien technology, Antigem CEO Takashi Kuriyama (Ron Ikejiri) orders Pentan’s destruction and sets off a “stroker” bomb originally installed inside Pentan’s head that will self-destruct in three days. Self-preservation sets in, and Pentan hires space smuggler Harold Brickman (Hans Bachmann) to take her to Robert Thornton (Rick Foucheuz), her original designer, on a distant planet to save her from her programmed fate. However, there is more to the trip than preventing a  technological aneurism: a complete spaceship of the alien technology is available in that area and she plans on turning it over to Brickman as a token of her thanks. However, Kuriyama is also aware of the technology and races to the same planet to capture the technology for reverse engineering profits and the elimination of Pentan.

As with all science fiction, the film boils down to a combination of a great storyline and spectacular special effects, and considering the film’s tiny $175,000 budget Outerworld delivers in spades. The overall story is fast paced and interesting, and themes of big business greed, the art of humanity, and personal freedoms are all presented in a subtle, non-preachy tone that displays the professionalism of the script. In terms of special effects Outerworld is definitely a labor of love as the model making and computer effects are especially detailed considering the small budget and every cent spent is left on the screen which is where it belongs. The spaceships look almost as good as much higher budget Hollywood productions at the time, and the scene where several spaceships have a dogfight in the rings surrounding a planet is especially appealing. The acting in the production is average yet adequate, and the technical aspects of the film such as the cinematography and sound production are proficient. On the negative, a few of the explosions in Outerworld are a bit hokey but are quite good when they count especially a final spaceship explosion and subsequent vaporization of its crew, plus the film does look a bit dated because everybody in the movie has an oh so obvious 1980’s hairdo including feathered locks and even a Jeri-curl.

Director Philip J. Cook is a literal jack of all trades in this production, serving as director, producer, cameraman, editor, special effects coordinator, model constructor, and he probably even did the catering. I have added what few other films he has created to my Netflix queue as Outerworld was a pleasant surprise as I expected just another example of 1980’s sci-fi junk. Instead, Outerworld is a labor of love that takes its limited budget and creates a quality production that looks great and is even better written. Sci-fi fans who can also enjoy smaller budget productions as well as the new Michael Bay or Roland Emerich eye candy will find Outerworld a quality piece of work that keeps the attention and has enough brain food to stimulate some quality discussion. A good effort.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

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