Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983) Review
A fast-moving, entertaining flick with engaging performances from the leading players.
Plot: While searching for three missing girls, Wolff (Peter Strauss) happens across Niki (Molly Ringwald), a waifish and rough teenager.
Review: I saw parts of this movie a little while ago on one of those cable television movie channels that seems to still be kicking around, even with all the streaming services available today – it may have been AMC. I remember watching most of it, which is unheard of for me because the way to get me to NOT watch something is to insert commercials – I hate ‘em.
Finally, sitting down and watching the whole movie, the first thing that caught me was this movie was produced by – wait for it – Ivan Reitman. Yes, that Ivan Reitman. It was surreal to hear Harold Ramis’ voice at the beginning, giving information to the main character. Like most Ivan Reitman productions, this movie was very whimsical and had fun moments. Unlike most Ivan Reitman productions, it also had its darker side.
Want proof? Well, Michael Ironside, who plays the film’s main villain, Overdog, is a sheer nightmare. He looks part human and part machine and is as cold and deranged as you would imagine that combination to me. In a scene that would never be allowed today, he has three young girls brought before him and, after singling one out, demands that she be stripped – slowly. I’m not a prude, but that one scene made my skin crawl. When he finally confronts Molly Ringwald’s character, he has her cruelly put into his maze of traps. He’s a cackling madman throughout and is just so great at doing it.
Molly Ringwald’s character takes some getting used to. She’s kind of shrill and, initially, annoying. I could see why some people wouldn’t like her. However, as you continue the adventure with her, you understand why she’s like that, and she gets better as the movie progresses. Thankfully, there is no love interest between her and the main character – especially considering she was 14 when she shot the film. I mean, stripping young women is one thing – hey, it was the 80s – but that would have been something different. If you want to see Molly Ringwald in a decidedly different role, this is your movie.
Peter Strauss seems to be channelling his inner-Han Solo for this movie, but nothing wrong with that. I wouldn’t say he was particularly memorable in the role, but he also didn’t do anything to screw things up. He was likeable enough. Ernie Hudson is great because – he’s Ernie Hudson. ‘Nuff said. Ernie Hudson is great, even if the film isn’t.
The score for this movie was damned awesome; very apropos for the content and got you hyped out of the adventuring you were about to see. Visuals were decent, and it worked for the world they were creating – you got different environments, desert, swamp, ice, etc. Yes, again, I know it sounds like Star Wars, but remember, after Star Wars and its successive sequels came out, everyone was running to that particular well. It’s what Hollywood does.
Overall, I have few complaints about this movie. It was a solid and fun adventure with engaging characters, a memorable villain, and superb visuals and score. Some people may want more (because, you know – feelings), but for this genre and this type of movie, it’s pretty much perfect for what it’s trying to achieve.