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REVIEW: Outland (1981) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Outland (1981)

Run Time: 110 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: A reasonably well aged Alien rip off

If you have been disappointed by Ridley Scott shitting the bed recently Alien: Covenant (and Prometheus before it), as well as the fact that those projects have probably killed off the alternate Aliens sequel, you should probably go back and take a look at this movie again.  It’s post-Alien rip off, both aesthetically and in its anti-corporate message.  Peter Hyams’ old, perhaps lesser known movie has aged reasonably well, especially if you curb your expectations.  It’s almost to Alien what The Last Boy Scout is to Die Hard.

Sean Connery is here, playing O’Niel, a marshal who gets sent from ‘one toilet to the next’ through the Company’s (the first of many inspirations from Alien) interstellar mining colonies.  Running the colony is the sleazy Sheppard (Peter Boyle), who boasts early in the movie of staggering productivity rates, which of course is down to amphetamines being used among the miners.  They allow a normal man to do 18 hours work in six, but if used regularly they’ll fry the men’s brains and drive them batshit, suicidal.  As O’Niel’s wife leaves the colony and returns to earth, he tries to take on Sheppard and bring down his corruption, but the bodies start racking up.

OUTLAND, Sean Connery, 1981, (c) Warner Brothers

Most people call this a rip off of the Alien series, but I only call it a rip off of the first movie.  In hindsight, there are things that Jim Cameron actually (possibly) took from Peter Hyams, remember, this film came before Aliens.  The video calling, the old 20th century-style shotguns.  There are a few effects issues in this movie, for instance Io (the moon they’re mining) in the opening credits isn’t even round.  It’s like a ball of dough, with the bottom right side in particular containing angles.  James Cameron would probably have had a heart attack at this oversight, but who knows, maybe Sheppard was so efficient he dug out 1/4 of the moon!

The finale though is kind of the movie’s weakest point, where O’Niel ‘goes outside’ to pick off the hired heavies in this space western.  This is pretty much effects-driven and not all of it is superb, sometimes a bit jarring or unintuitive… external shots are certainly not the movie’s strongest points — at one point in the movie, I noticed an external elevator shaft was totally bent, which is put down to simply lazy scale modelling.

On the upside, the movie does have a certain atmospheric charm, most of the films interior sets are almost on par with those seen in Alien.  And Sean Connery’s performance in particular I liked, because he’s showing his range as an actor here, this isn’t the cocky alpha male seen in Bond or The Rock.  O’Niel is quiet and aloof, but assertive.  This is actually one of his better roles.

  • Avenging force

    Great movie watched it as a kid always like when Connery plays blue collar heros like this or the hill some of his best work is the Anderson tapes and I really like his cool turn in rising sun ,meet him at a golf tournament in the Isle of Man back in the 90,s was a cool dude very friendly.

    • The Night Rider

      Winners go home and fuck the prom queen!

      • Avenging force

        Nice love that line, love it tells me that goose stepping morons like you should try reading books instead of burning them out of Indiana jones and the last crusade.

      • EnglishXenomorph88

        The Rock is fucking awesome film

  • Mucho Macho

    Manly Hall of Famer Sean Connery.
    Accept no substitute

    • Andymovieman

      Damn right. When it came to working with Peter hyams and John mctiernan twice. Sean Connery was the man. The legend. Too bad he retired. Would’ve been nice to see him in Expendables and Indiana Jones 4.

  • Mucho Macho

    I miss guys like Sean Connery on the big screen.

    • Andymovieman

      And Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson, Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood too.

      • Mucho Macho

        Yes..very much so

  • Abe Froman

    Awesome movie by the wildly underrated Peter Hyams. Good call on Cameron as he later befriended Hyams and personally asked him to direct End of Days.

    Connery and Hyams would later re-team for The Presidio. Also, both Hyams and his son John would later go on to make some excellent films with Van Damme (Timecop, Sudden Death, Enemies Closer, the two most recent Universal Soldier films)

  • David Barber

    Connery was great in this and ruled supreme. I honestly think he should have done more thrillers with Peter Hyams and perhaps maybe even been allowed to direct.

  • ColonelBobi

    This one must’ve snuck by me somehow, never seen it. Will look it up now thanks Night. Connery was always watchable and not just in his Bond movies. Anderson Tapes was another worth seeing for example.

  • Jonathan Jacobson

    Surprised you’re comparing this to Alien. LOVE this film but definitely see it as a remake of High Noon. Sheriff in a mining town, wife leaves him, and the mining owner brings in hired guns to come in to kill him. There’s even the whole thing with the countdown clock when the next shuttle arrives, like in the western when the next train arrives.

  • Andymovieman

    I hear it’s good but I haven’t checked it out yet. But I’ll try and see how good it is.