Movie Review - Space Station 76

The original series Star Trek (1966) spawned several spin-off shows. One spin-off was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993). In the mythology, the events of Deep Space Nine took place 100 years after the events of the original series, but one episode of Deep Space Nine in Season 5 called "Trials and Tribble-ations" had the characters of Deep Space Nine time-travel back to meet the characters of the original series. Instead of producing the past with new actors and new sets, costumes, props and makeup to match modern sensibilities, the episode was dutifully faithful and re-created the sets, costumes, props and makeup of the 1960's show exactly. Thus, the episode was intentionally anachronistic, done so for comedic effect. This movie, directed and co-written by Jack Plotnick, feels like that Deep Space Nine episode.

It pays homage to those kitschy or cheesy, science-fiction shows of the 60's and 70's, while also mocking them. It mocks the kind of sci-fi that unlike Steven Spielberg's Minority Report didn't have the budget or the dedication to hire a think tank to help craft the futuristic world in a realistic, prognostic way. It mocks the sci-fi that's totally representative of its time and forever dated to that time, even decades later. Yet, even though there are visual gags that are reminiscent of Mel Brooks' Spaceballs (1987), the comedy here never goes that far or takes that obvious route.

There isn't much of a plot or story here. It's simply about a group of people that work and live aboard Omega 76 Refueling Station that's out somewhere in the deep reaches of the galaxy. Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy and The Conjuring) stars as Captain Glenn Terry, the commanding officer of Omega 76. He's a smoker, a bit of a drunk. He's depressed and sexually repressed. He's slightly misogynistic, if not simply jaded and cynical. He's in some ways like the titular character from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), only not as idiotic or stupid.

Liv Tyler (Armageddon and The Lord of the Rings) who also co-starred with Wilson in The Ledge (2011) co-stars here as Lieutenant Commander Jessica Marlowe. She's new to Omega 76. She enters as second-in-command, replacing Daniel, played by Matthew Morison (Glee) who helped Glenn run and pilot the station. She's a beautiful woman but there's a loneliness to her. She's strong, tough and intelligent, yet some personal health problems sets her apart.

Matt Bomer (Magic Mike and The Normal Heart) plays Ted, essentially the Scotty of the original Star Trek or the Chief O'Brien of Deep Space Nine. He's an engineer who basically functions as the handyman or mechanic of the ship. Ironically, he's a handyman-mechanic who has a mechanical hand. He's involved with Misty, played by Marisa Coughlan, who is the mother of their 8 to 10 year-old daughter Sunshine, played by Kylie Rogers. It's evident that Ted being over-worked and Misty being under-worked contributes to their problems, but it's also evident that Ted and Misty are two different people who only stay together for Sunshine.

Jerry O'Connell (Stand By Me and Jerry Maguire) plays Steve, a Omega 76 occupant who gets the least amount of screen time. He's good at table hockey and he's quite horny. He's married to Donna, played by Kali Rocha (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Grey's Anatomy) who thankfully gets more screen time because she's hilarious. There's a great gag involving Donna and Steve's mother that Rocha plays extremely well.

While there's a lot of humor in the relationships and romances among the characters, all of which is very skillfully acted, the true joy comes from the art direction, costumes and set decoration, which very much wants you to feel like you're in the 70's. The robots look like the robots from Mystery Science Theater 3000. There's also silly anachronistic objects like a View-Master toy and clunky Betamax tapes or even something basic as snail mail in space. The simple comedy works wonderfully and delightfully here.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for graphic nudity, language and some drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 34 mins.


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