What were you smoking in 1979, Disney?
Anybody remember this movie? It was basically Disney’s attempt to cash in on the success of Star Wars, and it failed epically. I watched it recently because I saw it on Disney+ and remembered the little children’s book they made of it, so I was curious to know what the movie was like. And oh wow is it bad. Like, really really absurdly hilariously bad.
So basically the movie starts out with the crew of the U.S.S. Palomino in 2130 flyin’ through space... as you do... and they come across this big honkin’ black hole. The movie already seems a bit odd to me because their ship is freaking tiny. And they’re supposed to be on a deep space mission looking for hospitable planets. And there’s like at least five people and a robot crammed in there! How do they not hate each other’s guts by now? Anyways, the characters have no personality so I forgot their names. But there was Grandpa Guy, Dolores Umbridge, Captain Guy, Journalist Guy, and Wierd Young Guy (who isn’t shown in this picture, but it’s okay because nobody cares).
Oh, and of course there was V.I.N.CENT, who is a ripoff of both R2D2 and C3po at the same time while being as charming as neither.
But anyways, they see the black hole, and they notice a big freakin’ space ship called the U.S.S. Cygnet near the rim of it, and then they’re like “Oh, so that’s where that went.” Dolores Umbridge is like “OMG, my daddy was on that ship!!”, so they decide to go near the ship and just sort of check things out I guess. Predictably, they start getting sucked into the black hole and the ship starts shaking like a chihuahua with espresso because, as we all know, black hole gravity causes space earthquakes! This causes pipes to break and gasses to spew everywhere while everyone sits around and ignores the fact that V.I.N.CENT is just spinning around for no reason. Then the shaking stops because they’re in the metaphorical eye of the space hurricane. And then it starts again and V.I.N.CENT (You know what? Screw it, I’m just gonna call him Vincent) goes out his little space tube to use his magnetic balls to do... stuff. In space! Then Dolores Umbridge uses ESP to psychically communicate to Vincent what he needs to do. Oh yeah, she has ESP by the way, but it only works with the robot. No, this is never explained in further detail.
So then a bunch of random crap happens, Vincent saves himself from getting sucked into the black hole using his eject-o-magnet, and then they’re on the Cygnet hoping to get parts for the Palomino. As soon as they get on the ship, they tell Weird Young Guy to stay behind. An order which he follows for a few minutes. But as soon as they’re on the Cygnet, their weapons are destroyed by lasers. They just accept this and move on. Then they wander for a while through this massive ship with absolutely gargantuan amounts of empty space that exist for no apparent reason. They just accept this and move on. Then they find a weird little tram in a glass tube that goes through the outside of the ship, which seems like a TERRIBLE idea, and that takes them to the bridge.
There, they meet Hans Reinhardt.
He’s a bearded man with a Russian accent in a sci-fi movie from the seventies, which should be a dead giveaway that he’s the villain, but the Palomino crew somehow forget about this and accept that he’s the sole survivor on a ship now populated almost entirely by creepy humanoid robots. Some of which are actually quite hilarious, on account of them walking in the most stupid, unnecessarily awkward way. They’re supposed to be scary, but they come across more as silly and cringey. Oh, and right about now, a pair of them bring Weird Young Guy to the bridge because he was sneaking around. Then Maximillian, the evil creepy master robot dude, decides to intimidate them by staring them down and spinning his claws. Vincent decides this is a great opportunity to get all up in Maximillian’s face, and Reinhardt is like “No, Maximillian! Bad boy!”, to which he responds by staring at them all creepily.
They just accept this and move on. So then Maximillian creepily takes them to the parts department of the ship, where they encounter B.O.B., who is basically the smashed-up crushed can version of Vincent. Also, he has a southern accent for some reason. Then, everyone just sort of wanders around the ship and does a bunch of random, ultimately unimportant things for a while. During this time, major plot points aren’t really uncovered so much as unceremoniously dumped on the viewer. Vincent goes to the space shooting range with B.O.B, kicks the top shooter’s butt (accidentally killing him in the process), and B.O.B. reveals all of Reinhardt’s dirty little secrets. Because that’s what happens when you abuse your robots. Captain Guy wanders by a window and sees the robots disposing of one of their own with all the reverence of a funeral, and this bothers Captain Guy. Grandpa Guy finds the ship’s garden and asks a robot whether it can talk, waiting awkwardly for a response. This disturbs him. Then everyone has dinner with Reinhardt a few times and he chats with them about how he’s going to go into the black hole and explore unknown worlds for science, and he wants the Palomino crew to document it. They argue on and off about whether or not they can trust him, and Journalist Guy, who is an idiot, wants to go with Reinhardt.
Then Vincent gets into trouble with B.O.B. when B.O.B. shows him how the robots are made, and they kill a couple sentrys. Then Vincent does his whole ESP thing with Dolores Umbridge and tells her all about how Reinhardt killed the whole crew and turned them into zombie robot things so he could stay in space longer, and the rebellion led by Dolores’s dad failed. The rest of the crew starts catching on that this place is messed up, and Dolores, who is stuck in the bridge with Journalist Guy, tries to convince Journalist Guy not to stay. He doesn’t, but Reinhardt figures out that Dolores knows, Journalist Guy pulls off the mask of one of the robots and sees the zombie face underneath, and Maximillian gives him the purple nurple of death. And thus, Journalist Guy ded.
Dolores Umbridge then gets sent to the “hospital” to be turned into a robot, but all they manage to do is put tinfoil all over her head before Captain Guy saves her. Grandpa Guy and Weird Young Guy run through the halls and Grandpa Guy turns traitor and fakes a broken leg, allowing him to sneak onto the Palomino and ditch them all. But Reinhardt orders the Palomino shot down and it explodes. Also, at this time he starts accelerating into the black hole, and the whole story ceases to make any sense whatsoever. They run all over the ship as it becomes increasingly more destroyed by meteors and explosions and whatnot, and epic battles between them and the sentrys ensue. But the sentrys are ridiculously easy to kill, so it’s okay. At one point they take the tube tram thing and a meteor or something knocks off the other end of it, and they stop at THE EDGE OF A HOLE IN A TUBE IN SPACE. THEY ARE LITERALLY STANDING NEXT TO A MASSIVE GAPING HOLE IN A SPACESHIP AND SOMEHOW NOT DYING.
They just accept this and move on. They decide to take the probe space ship (oh yeah, that was another random thing that happened earlier), and on the way to it, they run through the garden, but the sentrys arrive and a hole gets punched in the roof. Then everything supposedly gets really frosty, but it just looks like dust. Also, the robots start getting sucked into space, but the Palomino crew manages to hold them down by pulling each other to the ground because, as we all know, gravity is stronger when you’re on the ground! And everybody manages to somehow miraculously survive being right next to a gaping hole in a spaceship AGAIN. Then they have to battle Maximillian, who gives Vincent the electric hug of death while shrugging off their laser blasts. But Vincent drills a hole in Maximillian and kills him, so it’s okay. Then they have to run through the center of the ship as a ginormous fiery meteor punches through into the spaceship and-
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? THERE’S A GIANT METEOR THE SIZE OF A FREAKING BUILDING PUNCHING A HOUSE-SIZED HOLE IN THE SPACESHIP AND THEY’RE STILL SOMEHOW NOT SUFFOCATING OR BEING SUCKED INTO SPACE!!!?? AND THEY JUST ACCEPT THIS AND MOVE ON!
Then the bridge gets all collapsey and Reinhardt gets crushed by a TV screen while the Palomino crew reaches the probe ship, FULLY EXPOSED TO OUTER SPACE BY THE WAY, and one of them literally starts floating off into space. But Vincent catches him, because of course he does, and screw logic. They blast off in the probe ship which might as well have been an open-top roadster with this movie’s logic, and they blast off... into the black hole.
Fun fact: That’s actually where the movie’s script ends. But it’s not the end of the movie. The completely and utterly absurd mess that happens next is the result of the movie’s director and producers desperately trying to figure out what to put there. The script had no real ending, so they improvised. And all I can say is, what the crap?
REINHARDT AND MAXIMILLIAN SOMEHOW FUSE TOGETHER AND THEN GET SENT TO ACTUAL HELL. This is probably the darkest scene in the whole movie. It features rows of skeletal beings and fires and brimstone and everything, all with the creepy silhouette of Maximillian/Reinhardt standing above it all like a devil. Like what the crap, Disney!
But luckily, the Palomino crew is pure of heart or whatever, so they get sent through this trippy stained-glass window portal thing and see ghost Jesus.
And the movie ends with them emerging back into space with a presumably hospitable planet looming in front of them. No other explanations given.
So should you see this movie? Yes. It’s the ultimate “What the crap did I just watch?” movie. Hilariously confusing and illogical. You’ll be questioning your sanity the whole time!
But really though, this movie mostly demonstrates how far ahead of its time Star Wars was. Star Wars became a timeless classic and a massive cultural phenomenon, something which few other movies of the time period accomplished. At least not on the same scale. And movies like this one demonstrate why.
At least these guys look kinda cool when they’re not moving: