Spacehunter, that '80s movie when 3D was a thing
This movie was a bit of a letdown.
I said after watching The Ice Pirates that I was going to watch this, and did.
First I'll that say The Ice Pirates is the better movie simply because it's more entertaining. Spacehunter looks better, sounds better and is more of a spectacle, but doesn't entertain as much.
The short lived 3D comeback of the early 1980s
Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone was one of a handful of movies from the '80s where one of its selling points was the whole 3D shtick.
I did in fact see this movie in 1983, in a theater, in 3D. Everybody in the theater was given those white 3D glasses where one lens was blue and the other red (the technical name is anaglyph 3D glasses.) That was the 3D tech back then.
Anybody who is a fan of 3D movies knows there is good 3D and bad 3D. Spacehunter was good 3D, and the movie really took advantage of showing things that truly had a three-dimensional effect to them. Different shots and scenes are sprinkled throughout the film where even now, 38 years later, I still remember how cool that 3D effect was.
The crappy part is that when I watched it now, I could see every scene where the director purposely composed 3D-friendly shots, which of course I can't fully experience. Would it have made a difference if I watched it on a giant TV? No. A bigger picture doesn't magically bring 3D back.
"Get this out fast before Jedi is released!"
The release of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was May 25, 1983. The release of Spacehunter was May 20, 1983. Yes, just 5 days prior. Not a coincidence. Spacehunter had to beat the clock and get released before Jedi because otherwise they would have been clobbered at the box office and never made their money back on production cost.
Yes, they did make their money back, but not by much. It was very wise to have this released before Jedi, because had they not done that, the movie certainly would have lost money.
Wimpy story, but great visuals and sound
For literally every character in this movie, either a small amount of information was given about them to push the weak story along, or hardly any at all.
The three girls seen at top? They each have names, but I guarantee you won't find out what those names are until looking at the end credits. Also, you will not get any info whatsoever on where these girls came from or why they're even important. All you're given is "Good guy must rescue these three girls that were on a cruise that got blown up." That's it.
You're never given a chance to care about any of the characters because of lack of info. And for any moment when the movie hints at telling you more about anybody, it just stops and goes back to the adventure stuff. The whole movie is like this.
Visually, yes, well done. Good sets, good costumes, good makeup, good lighting, good props. All good. Everything looks very sci-fi like the way it's supposed to. Some point out that there are certain things that look cheap, but I counter that by saying overall it's a good presentation.
Sound is also well done. I can hear everything that's going on and things are mixed well. It's a far cry better than many other 1980's movies.
I know now why I forgot this movie existed
Production is good, but it's the lack of story more than anything else that just kills this movie. It's the weak story that makes this flick so forgettable...
...and I believe that is why I totally forgot about it all these years until just recently.
What I liked about this movie when I saw it 38 years ago was the same thing I liked about it now. The visuals and spectacle of the whole thing. I was impressed by what I saw knowing it's a movie from 1983.
But as for story, there really isn't one. Spacehunter could have been so much more.