Sunday, May 07, 2023

Space Wars: Quest for the Deep Star

Of course, the original Star Wars films were far more fun than the recent stuff from Disney. The knock-offs were also better back then. It is always hard to stop watching the Roger Corman-produced “homages” like Battle Beyond the Stars and Space Raiders (with its suspiciously similar looking special effects). At its best moments, this movie is a little like those scruffy space operas, but only just a little. Still, a lot of stuff gets blasted in Garo Setian’s Space Wars: Quest for the Deep Star, which releases Tuesday on DVD.

In this far, far away galaxy, a dead person’s essence, their consciousness and soul, can be bottled up and reconstituted in an android, but only if you have enough money. Kip Corman (a hat-tip to the B-movie king?) did not have enough money to finish the job for his late (at least for now) wife. To pay for her android transfer, he and his daughter Taylor have taken on several dubious salvage jobs, earning the antagonism of the evil galactic dictator Elnora in the process.

The mother of all salvage jobs would be the Deep Star, a legendary space wreck lost somewhere in the universe. Corman was not even looking for it, when he and Taylor save Jackie, a quirky star-cartographer (who has probably been living alone in space too long), from the outlaw Dykstra, who wants her to chart his course to the Deep Star. Unfortunately, he captures Taylor, in return.

Frankly, the special effects were probably better in Roger Corman’s aforementioned movies (seriously, would he have re-used lackluster space battles?). However, there is something weirdly endearing about its eager over-ambitions. VOD mainstay Michael Pare plays it straight as Corman, never winking for the camera. Olivier Gruner makes an unusually tough villain as Dystra, but he must have been slightly embarrassed by the fight choreography, which mostly consists of everyone exchanging round house punches, like drunken cowboys. Plus, Anahit Setian is surprisingly endearing as the less-shticky-than-you-might-expect Jackie.

The story, penned by Joe Knetter and Setian, unfolds almost like a Madlibs of science fiction tropes, with sudden appearances of sandworms, asteroids, and even clones, but that is sort of part of its raggedy charm. It is all pretty goofy, but everyone sure strives to entertain.

You sort of need to be in the right headspace for
Space Wars, because it takes itself too seriously to be campy. The production values are bargain-basement-level, but somehow, everyone earns credit for trying. Not exactly recommended, but good luck to Space Wars: Quest for the Deep Star when it releases Tuesday (5/9) on DVD.